The coronation of a new British monarch is accompanied by all the pomp and pageantry expected of such an event. Every aspect of the monarch’s appearance is given the utmost attention, from their outfit to the Crown Jewels that will adorn them as they leave the Imperial Palace. The Crown Jewels, outside the days they make official appearances, like during coronations, can be viewed at the Tower of London. However, while the Crown Jewels command attention and the monarch’s clothing puts fashion bloggers to work, a part of the overall look is often overlooked – the coronation robes.
The coronation robes are as important in the process as the outfit and Crown Jewels. There are four of them, and the new monarch dons each of these robes at specific points during the coronation process. These steps are contained in the Liber Regalis (the Royal Book), following the order used during the coronation of Edward II in 1308. Most of the robes are made anew for each monarch, but some have been retained for a while. Here are the coronation robes to note and the order in which they are donned.
The new monarch enters Westminster Abbey wearing the Robe of State. This robe, also known as the Parliament Robe, is the one the monarch wears at the State Opening of Parliament every year. The Robe of State is made for every monarch, and Queen Elizabeth’s own was made of red velvet, gold embroidery, and regal ermine from Canada.
The Colobium Sidonis is the most simple of the coronation robes, yet it is worn during one of the most important aspects of the coronation. The new monarch wears the Colobium Sidonis during the anointing, where they appear before God. This robe is different from its companions in its simplicity, but the aim is to symbolize purity before God, as the monarch is divested of all worldly vanity.
The Supertunica is donned over the Colobium Sidonis and is passed down from monarch to monarch. The same Supertunica was worn by King George V, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth II. It is a flowing, full-sleeved coat of gold silk with an opening at the front lined with red tabby silk. It is decorated with the national symbols of the home nations and a golden buckle cast with roses, thistles, and shamrocks.
The final robe, the Imperial Robe, the monarch wears as the Archbishop of Canterbury crowns them, and they exit the chapel wearing it. Also known as the Robe Royal, this robe is made of purple velvet and white Canadian ermine. It is decorated with national symbols, and imperial eagles crafted in silver thread adorn its corners. The Imperial Robe is the most popular of the coronation robes.
The order of donning the coronation robes follows that used during the last coronation, during the time of Queen Elizabeth II. King Charles may follow the order as the British monarchy is big on tradition. He may also skip some parts to make the events last less than the five hours it took to formally crown his mother in 1953.