Westminster Abbey has been Britain’s coronation church since 1066. From William the Conqueror through to Queen Elizabeth II, all except two monarchs have been crowned in the Abbey.


Bayeux Tapestry - William I's Coronation [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Edward V was presumed murdered in the Tower of London before he could be crowned and Edward VIII abdicated 11 months after succeeding his father so was never crowned.

Since the 14th century every coronation ceremony has followed the same order of service laid down in the Abbey’s magnificent medieval illuminated manuscript, the Liber Regalis (which can be viewed in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries at the Abbey), and the act of crowning takes place in the Coronation Chair on the Cosmati mosaic pavement.


Liber Regalis - a King being crowned [copyright Dean & Chapter of Westminster]

The Coronation Chair commissioned by Edward I faces the High Altar to symbolise the link between the sovereign and God.


The Coronation Chair at the 1911 coronation

In the 18th and 19th centuries, public spectacle sometimes overshadowed religious significance. At George III's coronation some of the congregation began to eat a meal during the sermon, and George IV's coronation was a great theatrical spectacle but he flatly refused to allow his estranged wife Caroline into the Abbey.


Coronation of King George IV

William IV had to be persuaded to have a coronation at all and spent so little money that it became known as 'the penny coronation'.

By the time Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953 the world was able to witness her coronation on television.

Coronation 1953 - Queen in Chair Getty images copyright.jpg

Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 - Getty images