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British RoyalsHistory

A Guide to Coronation Service: The entry of the Monarch into Westminster Abbey

On 6 May, King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla will be crowned at Westminster Abbey. For many, this will be the first coronation they have ever seen.

The ceremony will follow a pattern laid out in the Liber Regalis, kept at Westminster Abbey and which has informed the pattern of coronations since the 14th century. The service which will see the Coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla will include the same elements as the historic coronations which have gone before and everything starts with their entry to the Abbey.

In June 1953, during Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, she entered through the west door of London’s Westminster Abbey. During her arrival, she was received by massed choirs singing “I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122, 1-3,6, 7.)

“I was glad when they said unto me,
We will go into the house of the Lord.
Our feet shall stand in thy gates,
O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built as a city
that is at unity in itself.
O pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
they shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls,
and plenteousness within thy palaces.”

In the meantime, Queen Elizabeth II passed through the body of the Church and through the choir onto the steps of the Theatre. As she passed through the quire, the boys of Westminster School gave their “Vivats,” an expression of acclamation.

Facing the south side of the Altar, The Queen knelt before her Chair of the Estate. After some short private prayers, she sat down in the chair in front of the Royal Gallery. This all took place before the actual recognition and oath during the ceremony.

The Bible, Paten, and Chalice then are brought by the Bishops who had borne them and placed them upon the Altar. The Lords carry in procession the Regalia. Those who carry the Swords do not enter this procession. Then, they are delivered to the Dean of Westminster as the Dean places them on the Altar.

As for the Regalia, it has its own procession before the Monarch enters. This involves being taken from the Jerusalem Chamber, in the Abbey precincts, and then to the High Altar along with the oil of chrism that will be used during the ceremony. Other items are then taken to St Edward’s Chapel and to the Annexe as they sit ready for the main processions.

While it has not been confirmed how the ceremony will play out for King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla, it is likely the entrance into The Abbey will be similar. The Coronation is an event of pageantry and celebration – it is also a solemn religious ceremony and has essentially remained the same for the last 1,000 years.

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About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.