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HistoryKing Charles III

What are coronation banquets and why aren’t they held anymore?

King Charles III is making considerable changes to the coronation to modernise the ceremony and recognise the monarchy’s position in the twenty-first century. Both the coronation ceremony and procession will look quite different from his mother’s coronation in 1953.

However, Charles is not the only monarch to make changes to coronation traditions. 

Historically newly–crowned monarchs have hosted a coronation venue following their coronation ceremony. Beginning in 1189 with Richard the Lionheart’s coronation, the monarch would host a banquet at Westminster Hall to celebrate their coronation and to show their generosity toward’s their new subjects.

The sumptuous banquets were often served on elaborate and luxurious services to display the monarch’s wealth. Musicians would play throughout the hall to highlight the celebratory atmosphere. By the later Stuart period, it had become a major social event with stands in the hall to allow members of the public to watch. 

In addition to feasting, the coronation banquet would feature a very specific tradition. The King/Queen’s Champion (historically connected to the Dymoke family) would ride into Westminster Hall in full armour and challenge anyone who questioned the monarch’s divine right to the throne. 

This elaborate tradition was discontinued in 1831 for William IV’s coronation. His older brother, George IV, held the most expensive coronation in British history in 1821. William recognised that the public did not have the appetite for such an extravagant event and streamlined his coronation, much like The King is doing now in 2023. 

After George IV’s coronation banquet in 1821, later monarchs held banquets and luncheons at Buckingham Palace to celebrate their coronation. However, they were much smaller in scale and did not include the tradition of the King’s Champion. 

In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II held a Commonwealth banquet to celebrate the event with Commonwealth representatives. King Charles has decided against the tradition for his coronation.

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