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What do kings usually wear to coronations?

Although the Coronation is still weeks away, one of the major questions asked is what will The King wear?. There have been suggestions that he will wear a military uniform, as William IV did in 1838, but there is also a far more traditional set of clothing used by kings for coronations.

These garments are typically created new for each monarch with a few notable exceptions. If The King does choose to continue this tradition, we may see all or at least some of these garments in May. 

The last Coronation of a King in Britain, in 1937, saw King George VI opt for the tradition of breeches and hose for the ceremony. Breeches usually extend to just below the knee and can be close fitting or shaped to add volume. The hose, usually thick and made of silk, are worn with ornate shoes, often featuring an elaborate buckle.

There are also robes that all monarchs wear during a coronation, each with their own symbolic place in the ceremony.

For their procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey and for the first portion of the coronation service, the monarch wears a crimson surcoat (that is worn for the majority of the ceremony) and the Robe of State. The monarch wears their Robe of State for the first time at their coronation and then wears them for the State Opening of Parliament. 

The Robe of State is one of the most visually recognised items from the coronation. It is a robe of ermine with a crimson velvet train and is lined with ermine and trimmed gold lace. 

The King will wear a plain white gown for his anointing, known as the anointing gown. 

The sovereign then wears a different set of robes through communion. This includes the shroud tunic (colobium sindonis), a white linen sleeveless shift with a lace border, a gold silk coat that is lined with pink silk and trimmed with lace (this is the Supertunica and it dates back to George IV’s coronation in 1821), the Robe Royal which is a mantle lined in crimson silk (also dating back to 1821), and the Stole Royal, a gold silk stole that is set with jewels. 1

For the last portion of the coronation service, the monarch will wear a purple surcoat and the Robe of Estate, an ermine cape with a purple velvet train, lined with Canadian ermine and linked with English silk. The is no pre-determined pattern for the Robe of Estate, so The King will be able to work with embroiderers to create his own. 

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