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The swords that will play a vital role in the Coronation

The Coronation of King Charles III will be filled with pomp, circumstance and regalia. Some of the regalia are worn, like robes and spurs. But other pieces of regalia are carried and presented throughout the ceremony.

Swords are a key part of the Coronation. Five of them will be used at specific moments in the ceremony.

The Sword of State

First used at the Coronation of James II in 1865, the Sword of State may be the most familiar sword to royal watchers and those who follow British politics. The sword is prominent at formal occasions, including the State Opening of Parliament. Carried with the point upwards, ahead of the sovereign, the Sword of State represents royal authority.

The Sword of State dates back to 1678 and has a steel blade and a silver-gilt hilt. The scabbard is wooden and covered in velvet. King William III’s coat of arms is part of the scabbard’s decoration. 

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King Charles will also be familiar with this sword. It was used for his investiture as Prince of Wales in July 1969.

The Sword of Temporal Justice, the Sword of Spiritual Justice, the Sword of Mercy

These three swords are used during the Coronation Procession.

The Sword of Temporal Justice shows that the monarch is the Head of the Armed Forces. The Sword of Spiritual Justice represents the sovereign as the Defender of the Faith. The Sword of Mercy, also known as a curtana, has a blunted tip and represents the monarch’s mercy.

All three swords will be some of the first objects carried into Westminster Abbey, ahead of the monarch. They will be unsheathed and held upright. The swords were first used in King Charles I’s Coronation in 1626. The steel blades are dated to the 1500s, and the gilt-iron hilts are from the 1600s. 

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The Sword of Offering

The fifth and final sword in the Coronation is the Sword of Offering. Though it was first used at the Coronation of George IV in 1821, it did not become a Coronation tradition until 1902 for the Coronation of Edward VII. It has since been used at every Coronation.

After the anointing, the monarch will be robed and invested with several items, including the Sword of Offering. The Archbishop blesses the sword and presents it to the sovereign, saying it should be used to protect good and punish evil. The Sword of Offering will then be placed on the altar.

George IV designed The Sword of Offering. It is highly bejewelled and decorated. The blade is blued and gilt-steel and decorated on both sides with national symbols of thistles, roses and shamrocks. Britannia, royal coats of arms, scrolls and a royal crown also appear on the blade.

The hilt is gold, with diamonds, rubies and a large emerald moon on each side. The scabbard is leather but lined with red silk velvet and covered in sheet gold. Diamonds, rubies and emeralds make up the rose, shamrock and thistle scabbard decorations. 

The Sword of Offering represents the sovereign’s commitment to the people and the realm.