An Elizabethan Garland

An Elizabethan Garland

An Elizabethan Garland

An Elizabethan Garland

Excerpt

The English monarchy is the oldest of our political institutions -- many centuries older than Parliament -and, except for the Papacy, the oldest in Europe. The coronation ceremony goes back with the monarchy to the early days of the Anglo-Saxon kings. The earliest recension of the service we have is from the eighth century: it already contains the essential elements -- the anointing of the king, the delivery of the emblems of power, rod, sceptre, helmet, and the enthronement. We know that when King Edgars was crowned on Whit Sunday 973, by St. Dunstan, care was taken to get the exact form of the service right. It is fascinating to think that the ceremony has remained in essence the same for about a thousand years: a thing to be proud of in a world without much sense of order or of the past. Thank goodness the English are in this, as in some other things, an exception!

When William the Conqueror had defeated Harold at Hastings and entered London, he wished to postpone his coronation till his wife could join him. But it was urgent that the ceremony should take place to secure his position: he would not be really king until he was anointed and crowned. So on Christmas day 1066 the ceremony took place in Edward the Confessor's abbey at Westminster. The Conqueror swore the oath to rule his people justly. When he was presented to the people for their . . .

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