As Their Majesties' Coronation draws closer, read on for 100 fun facts about The King, The Queen Consort and the history of Coronations.
His Majesty The King
1 Prince Charles Philip Arthur George was born at Buckingham Palace on 14th November 1948 at 9.14pm, weighing 7lbs 6oz. The Prince was christened on 15th December 1948 at Buckingham Palace.
2 The former Prince Charles became heir apparent (next in line to the throne) at the age of three years old in 1952, and went onto become the longest serving Prince of Wales in 2017. His Majesty was the first heir to see his mother crowned as Sovereign.
3 The King has three siblings, two sons, two step-children, five grandchildren and five step-grandchildren.
4 The first formal photograph of The King was taken by Cecil Beaton in December 1948.
5 His Majesty’s first visit abroad was to Malta, when he was five years old. Since 1969, he has visited 48 Commonwealth countries, many of them on several occasions.
6 The King was the first heir to the throne to earn a university degree. The King studied archaeology and anthropology in his first year at the University of Cambridge, switching to history for the remainder of his degree. His Majesty also spent a term at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth (April to June 1969) learning Welsh.
7 While at school, The King played the piano, trumpet and cello. He continued to play the cello while an undergraduate at Cambridge, performing in a symphony concert by the Trinity College Orchestra on 4th December 1967.
8 His Majesty obtained his RAF wings as Flight Lieutenant Wales in August 1971.
9 The King commanded HMS Bronington in 1976, while serving in the Royal Navy.
10 His Majesty started charity The Prince’s Trust with his Navy severance pay of just over £7000 in 1976. The charity has now supported over one million young people.
11 His Majesty was the first member of The Royal Family to successfully complete the Parachute Regiment’s training course, before he was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment in 1977.
12 The King, as Prince of Wales, was given the title, 'Keeper of the Cows', by the Masai in Tanzania in 2011 to recognise his work as a farmer.
13 In the Pacific Island of Vanuatu, His Majesty was given the title Mal Menaringmanu (High Chief) in 2018.
14 The King also had a frog named after him: Hyloscirtus Princecherlesi or Prince Charles Magnificent Tree Frog.
15 As Prince of Wales, His Majesty became President or Patron of over 800 charities and initiatives in total.
16 A champion of environmental issues for over 50 years, The King first spoke publicly about his concerns on pollution and plastics and their impact on the natural world in 1970.
17 At the age of 16 years, The King undertook his first official Royal duty in June 1965, attending a student garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
18 His Majesty is an author. He wrote The Old Man of Lochnagar, based on stories he told his younger brothers growing up. The King has also written books on the natural world and the environment including 'Harmony'; and 'Climate Change, a Ladybird Expert Book'.
19 The King is a keen painter and had a watercolour displayed in the Royal Academy's 1987 summer exhibition, after it was submitted anonymously.
20 In 1975, His Majesty became a member of the Magic Circle, a society of stage magicians founded in London in 1905, after passing his audition with a magic trick.
21 In 1980, The King rode in the Ludlow steeplechase and finished second. His Majesty has been a keen equestrian throughout his life and played polo until 2005.
22 The King made a cameo appearance on Coronation Street in 2000, and on EastEnders in 2022 in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.
23 His Majesty has presented the weather forecast on the BBC. This took place during a visit to BBC Scotland's studios in 2012.
24 The King purchased an Aston Martin DB6 Mark 2 Volante in November 1970, which has since been converted to run on E85 bioethanol made from by-products of the wine and cheese industries. The Prince and Princess of Wales left Buckingham Palace in His Majesty's Aston Martin following their wedding in April 2011.
25 The King often carries out tree planting ceremonies during engagements. After planting each tree, His Majesty gives a branch a friendly shake to wish them well.
Her Majesty The Queen Consort
1 Camilla Rosemary Shand was born on 17 July 1947 at King’s College Hospital, London.
2 The Queen Consort’s parents are Major Bruce Middleton Hope Shand and the Hon Rosalind Maud Shand (nee Cubitt).
3 Her Majesty has personal links to military organisations connected to her father, Major Bruce Shand, who was awarded two military crosses. The Queen Consort has attended many occasions with veterans, serving soldiers and officers of the 9th/12th Lancers with whom her father served. Major Shand also fought with the Desert Rats in the Second World War before being captured during the Battle of El Alamein.
4 The Queen Consort has been involved with the Royal Osteoporosis Society since the 1990s, and it became her first patronage as Duchess of Cornwall, after her mother and grandmother both suffered with the condition.
5 Her Majesty is the eldest of the three Shand children. The Queen Consort has a sister, Annabel Elliot and a brother, Mark Shand, who sadly passed away in 2014.
6 In September 2014, The King and The Queen Consort, as Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, became Joint Presidents of Elephant Family. The charity was founded in 2002 by Her Majesty's late brother, Mark Shand, who dedicated his life to saving the Asian Elephants.
7 The King and The Queen Consort married in a civil ceremony at the Guildhall in Windsor on 9th April 2005. This was followed by a Service of Prayer and Dedication at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
8 Following her marriage to The King, The Queen Consort has become Patron or President of over 100 charities.
9 The Queen Consort’s first solo official engagement was to Southampton General Hospital on 23rd May 2005.
10 Her Majesty travelled to the United States for her first official visit overseas in November 2005, meeting President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the White House.
11 The Queen Consort adopted two rescue Jack Russell terriers, Beth and Bluebell, as puppies from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. On a visit to Battersea Old Windsor in 2020, Jack Russell Beth assisted Her Majesty in unveiling a plaque (with a little help from some foodie treats!)
12 In 2013, The Queen Consort began a Wash Bag initiative, providing Sexual Assault Referral Centres (or SARCs) with wash bags, containing toiletries such as shampoo and body wash, which are given to those referred to the centres.
13 In July 2021, Her Majesty, when she was The Duchess of Cornwall, became Patron of Nigeria’s first sexual assault referral centre, Mirabel.
14 The Queen Consort keeps fit by taking Silver Swan ballet classes.
15 Her Majesty is a fan of the BBC programme, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, and on two occasions has had the opportunity to dance with judge Craig Revel-Horwood and former judge Len Goodman.
16 A self-confessed bibliophile, Her Majesty has said that the book she returns to over and over again is ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
17 In 2021, while the UK was in lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, Her Majesty launched The Reading Room – an Instagram platform to discover new books and the extraordinary people who create them. In February 2023, the initiative was relaunched as a charity, called ‘The Queen’s Reading Room’.
18 The Queen Consort enjoys playing Scrabble and Wordle.
19 In the build up to Her Majesty’s 75th birthday, The Queen Consort made her Vogue debut in June 2022.
20 Her Majesty does not have her ears pierced, instead choosing to wear clip-on earrings.
21 The Queen Consort is President of Ebony Horse Club, the organisation which taught Khadijah Mellah how to ride, leading her to become the first hijab-wearing jockey in a competitive British horse race and the winner of the Magnolia Cup.
22 Her Majesty’s engagement ring once belonged to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, The King’s grandmother.
23 The Queen Consort’s 75th birthday edition of Country Life was the best-selling of all time.
24 Her Majesty is a keen gardener and also produces her own honey at home in Wiltshire. This honey is sold at Fortnum & Mason to raise money for charity.
25 Last year, Buckingham Palace announced that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had appointed The Duchess of Cornwall, as she was formerly known, to be a Lady of the Garter.
A History of Coronations
1 King Charles III will be crowned on 6th May 2023 in Westminster Abbey, with The Queen Consort being crowned beside him.
2 Since 1601, there has only been one Coronation in the month of May – so far…
3 Westminster Abbey has been the setting for every Coronation since 1066. Before the Abbey was built, Coronations were carried out wherever was convenient, taking place in Bath, Oxford and Canterbury.
4 His Majesty will be the fortieth Sovereign to be crowned at Westminster Abbey.
5 For the first time since 1937, the coronation of King Charles III will include the crowing of a Queen Consort. Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI, was the last Queen Consort to be crowned.
6 On Christmas Day 1066, William the Conqueror became the first monarch to be crowned at Westminster Abbey.
7 King Charles III succeeded to the Throne on 8th September 2022 upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch.
8 At four years old, the then Prince Charles received a special hand-painted children’s invitation to his mother’s Coronation.
9 The Earl Marshal is responsible for organising the Coronation. Since 1386, this position has been undertaken by The Duke of Norfolk.
10 The 18th Duke of Norfolk is responsible for The King's Coronation this year and was also responsible for the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
11 Every coronation of a British monarch since King George III has taken place between May and September.
12 The earliest English coronation that is recorded in detail, although not the first, is the crowning of the Anglo-Saxon King Edgar in Bath in 953 CE.
13 The youngest ever monarch was Mary, Queen of Scots, who became Queen in 1542 when she was just six days old.
14 The contemporary form of the coronation dates from 1902, when King Edward VII was crowned. This consists of a state procession from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey, another procession inside, the Recognition, the Anointing, the Coronation Oath, the Homage and finally another procession from the Abbey back to the Palace.
15 For hundreds of years, the monarch stayed at the Tower of London two nights before the coronation. The day before the coronation, the monarch then processed through London to Westminster. This last happened in 1661 with Charles II.
16 Since 1902, the finale of coronation day itself has been a balcony appearance from the new monarch and other members of the Royal Family. This was inaugurated by Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
17 The original 14th century order of service, Liber Regalis, was written in Latin and descends directly from that of King Edgar at Bath in 973 CE. The Liber Regalis has provided the basis for every Coronation since.
18 The Coronation Oath and the Accession Declaration Oath are the only aspects of the ceremony that are required by law.
19 Handel’s coronation anthem Zadok The Priest has been played at every coronation since 1727.
20 Their Majesties’ Coronation will include 12 new commissions of music, including a Coronation Anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a Coronation March by Patrick Doyle, and other works by Ian Farrington, Sarah Class, Nigel Hess, Paul Mealor, Tarik O'Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Shirley J. Thompson, Judith Weir, Roderick Williams, and Debbie Wiseman.
21 The Official Royal Harpist, Alis Huws, will also perform as part of the Coronation Orchestra.
22 In 2023, Anglican churches will mark the coronation by ringing a special peal of bells in an event called ‘Ring for the King – Ringing for the King’s Coronation’.
23 The Gold State Coach is an enclosed eight-horse-drawn carriage used by the Royal Family on grand state occasions, such as coronations, royal weddings, and the jubilees of a monarch. It has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since George IV. Until World War II, the coach was the monarch’s usual transport to and from the State Opening of Parliament.
24 The King will be crowned in St Edward's Chair, made in 1300 for Edward I and used at every Coronation since that time. It is permanently kept in Westminster Abbey.
25 Steeped in history and tradition, the St. Edward's Crown, made in 1661, will be placed on the head of The King during the Coronation service. It weighs 4 pounds and 12 ounces, or about 2.2kg, and is made of solid gold.
26 The St. Edward’s Crown has been used in the coronation of every British monarch since the coronation of King Charles II.
27 In 1902, at the coronation of King Edward VII, the then Archbishop of Canterbury mistakenly placed the St Edward’s Crown on the King’s head back to front.
28 Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, was the only Queen Consort to be crowned with the original St Edward’s Crown. This took place on 1st June 1533.
29 The Queen Consort will wear Queen Mary’s Crown at the Coronation. It is the first time a Consort’s crown has been re-used since the 18th century – and will feature diamonds from Queen Elizabeth II’s personal jewellery collection.
30 Edward VIII was never crowned as King. His reign lasted only 325 days. His brother Albert consequently became King, using his last name George, as George VI.
31 The hollow gold orb, set with pearls, precious stones and a large amethyst beneath the cross, was made in 1661 and has been used in every coronation since then.
32 The Sovereign's Ring was originally made in 1831 for William IV, and has a cross of Saint George (patron saint of England) in rubies (thought to represent dignity) against a blue background of a single sapphire.
33 Also known as 'The Wedding Ring of England', the Sovereign’s Ring has featured in every coronation since King William IV in 1831, when it was made.
34 At the coronation of Queen Victoria, her fingers were so small that the ring could not be reduced far enough in size and an alternative was created.
35 Edward the Confessor may have been the first monarch to assemble a regalia, or crown jewels. This has been replaced or altered over the succeeding centuries.
36 A “coronation spoon” has been used at every coronation since 1349 to anoint the monarch with a secret mixture of oils.
37 The oil which will be used to anoint King Charles III has been consecrated in Jerusalem. Olive oils from the Mount of Olives, not far from His Majesty’s grandmother Princess Alice’s crypt, were mixed as part of making the chrism oil.
38 The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the first to be televised and for most people, it was the first time they had watched an event on television. 27 million people in the UK watched the ceremony on television and 11 million listened on the radio.
39 The first photograph of a coronation was taken during that of George V in the early 20th century by Sir Benjamin Stone, an MP and amateur photographer.
40 In May 1937, the BBC was allowed to broadcast George VI’s coronation service on the radio.
41 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.
42 In 1308, guests at the coronation feast of Edward II managed to drink 1,000 casks of wine.
43 Coronation Chicken was invented for the guests who were to be entertained, following Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation. The food had to be prepared in advance, and Florist Constance Spry proposed a recipe of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, green peas and mixed herbs. Constance Spry's recipe won the approval of the Minister of Works and has since been known as Coronation Chicken.
44 Attendance at the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the most substantial yet: more than 8,000 guests representing 129 nations.
45 King Edward VII’s coronation was scheduled for June 1902 but was postponed after the King fell ill, meaning invited foreign dignitaries had left London by the time the ceremony took place.
46 More than 6,000 men and women of the UK’s Armed Forces – and nearly 400 Armed Forces personnel from at least 35 Commonwealth countries - will take part in the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
47 In 1953, Princess Marie Louise (Queen Victoria’s granddaughter) witnessed her fourth coronation, having also been present for those of Kings Edward VII, George V and George VI.
48 The Coronation Emblem for His Majesty’s 2023 Coronation was designed by Sir Jony Ive, who was formerly Chief Design Officer of Apple, Inc.
49 In 1689, King William III and Queen Mary II were crowned as joint Sovereigns for the first and only time.
50 Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t the only one who occupied the Coronation Chair on 2nd June 1953. On the morning of her Coronation, a black cat called Matins was found sleeping on the chair in Westminster Abbey.
Content and photos courtesy of Royal.uk.