The King and Queen consort will be anointed behind a specially created fine embroidery screen, held up by posts hewn from ancient windblown Windsor oak and mounted with eagles cast in bronze and gilded with gold leaf, a announced Buckingham Palace.
The anointing screen was blessed in a special service at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace and will be used at what has historically been considered the holiest moment of the coronation.
The anointing is traditionally seen as a moment between the ruler and God, and the screen should be used to give sanctity to this moment. Traditionally, the moment is neither photographed nor televised.
During the coronation of Elizabeth II, a sumptuous canopy of rich golden fabric was held above the monarch’s head.
Charles’ screen will allow for greater privacy as the Archbishop of Canterbury pours chrism, or holy oil, which was specially blessed in Jerusalem, from a golden ampulla into the 12th-century coronation spoon. The Archbishop will then anoint the King by making a cross on the hands, chest and head, and perform the same on Camilla.
The tradition of anointing dates back to the Old Testament, which describes the anointing of Solomon by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet, and was one of the medieval holy sacraments emphasizing the ruler’s spiritual status.
The anointing screen, including its four oak poles, is 2.6 meters high and 2.2 meters wide. The wooden frame, designed and created by Nick Gutfreund of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, is made from a windblown Windsor Estate tree originally planted in 1765. The posts have been whitewashed and waxed, and on top of each are mounted two eagles cast in bronze and gilded with gold leaf.
The shape of an eagle has long-standing associations with coronations. Eagles have appeared on previous coronation canopies, including the one used by Elizabeth II in 1953. The ampulla used for the anointing is in the shape of an eagle.
Embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework and by Digitek Embroidery, and donated by the City of London Corporation and participating livery companies, the screen is three-sided, with the open side facing the High Altar of Westminster Abbey .
Designed by iconographer Aidan Hart, the central design takes the form of a tree, which includes the names of the 56 nations of the Commonwealth, with the king’s cipher at the base, and is inspired by the stained glass window in the sanctuary of the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, designed for the late Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Two sides feature a simple cross in brown, blue and red gold, inspired by the colors and patterns of the Cosmati pavement at Westminster Abbey where the anointing will take place. The fabric is made from Australian and New Zealand wool, woven and finished in UK mills.
Hart said: “The inspiration for the stained glass window in the Chapel Royal was personally requested by His Majesty the King. Each element of the design has been specifically chosen to symbolize aspects of this historic coronation and the Commonwealth, from the birds that symbolize joy and interaction between members of a community living in harmony, to the joyful angels and the dove that represents the Holy Spirit.”
The screen will be manned by service personnel from the Household Division regiments, replacing the knights who usually manned the canopy. In the past, being chosen to wear the canopy was seen as a sign of being in royal favour.
At the coronation of Charles II in 1661, there was an unseemly quarrel between the barons of the Cinque Ports, responsible for holding the silk canopy over the king’s head, and the king’s footmen. One of the perks of the job, according to the barons, was that they had to cut out the banner and each keep a piece. But they were called out by the footmen, who also wanted the canopy, and a fight broke out, which the barons won.
The Stone of Destiny, the ancient symbol of the Scottish monarchy, left Edinburgh Castle for the first time since returning to Scotland in 1996 on Friday to begin its journey to Westminster Abbey.
The 125kg stone was removed in a sending ceremony and will be placed under the coronation chair, which was specially built in the 14th century with the stone underneath. Putting it back together will be a challenge.
“It’s extremely tight. In fact, it won’t go straight. There are only a few millimeters to spare,’ said Colin Muir, senior stone conservator at Historic Environment Scotland, who is tasked with helping to ensure it is installed.
Also known as the Stone of Scone, it has been used for centuries at the coronations of monarchs and the inauguration of Scottish kings, but in 1296, after invading Scotland during the Wars of Independence, the King of England Edward I removed the stone from Scotland. Around 1300, he had a chair built to hold the stone and installed it in Westminster Abbey.
For 700 years the stone was housed in the abbey, although in 1950 it was taken in a daring raid by four Scottish students, eventually being found at Arbroath Abbey.
It was officially returned to Scotland in 1996 and is usually found next to the Crown Jewels of Scotland in the Crown Room at Edinburgh Castle.