Doves, eagles, and a blunted sword: The symbolism in the King's coronation

The crown jewels and other sacred pieces of regalia will make an historic outing, ITV News reports

Sacred and medieval regalia rooted in tradition will take centre stage at the heart of the King’s coronation.

The ceremony will be an historic outing for the crown jewels, normally locked away in the Tower of London.

The jewels have played crucial roles in coronations for hundreds of years and symbolise the monarch's powers and responsibilities.

The King and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, will be crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the morning of Saturday, May 6 at Westminster Abbey.

Archbishop Justin Welby vowed the service will be "deeply Christian" but will also be "representative of the people of this land."

The crowns, swords and sceptres on show on the historic day all carry deep meaning in royal history.

Here's how to understand the symbolism and historic importance each piece of coronation regalia is steeped in.

St Edward's crown

St Edward's crown. Credit: Buckingham Palace/PA

Named after Edward the Confessor, this crown is used for a short period - solely for the moment of crowning.

It is solid gold, weighs nearly five pounds, and is set with 444 precious stones.

The Queen reportedly practised walking with bags of flour on her head to get used to its weight.

Imperial State crown

The Imperial State crown. Credit: Buckingham Palace/PA

The King will later swap crowns and use the Imperial State crown when he leaves Westminster Abbey.

Known as the monarch's "working crown", it is worn for events such as the State Opening of Parliament, and is much lighter than St Edward's crown.

The crown was made for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II's father, King George VI, in 1937, and is set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls.

It was the crown seen on Queen Elizabeth's coffin for her funeral in September, last year.

Queen Mary's crown

The Queen Consort, Camilla, will also be crowned during the coronation with Queen Mary’s crown.

It originally featured the controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond but it will be reset with diamonds often worn by Queen Elizabeth as brooches, as a tribute to the late monarch.

Queen Mary's crown. Credit: Buckingham Palace/PA

The ownership of the Koh-i-Noor - one of the largest cut diamonds on the planet - has long been disputed.

The first official record of it comes from India in the 1740s and has changed hands between various empires, before Britain acquired it in the 1840s.

India, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan have all claimed ownership of the invaluable gem, but Britain maintains the diamond was obtained legally.

This will be the first time in recent history that an existing crown will be used for the coronation of a consort, rather than a new commission. The Palace says it is in the interest of sustainability.

Ampulla and spoon

The most sacred moment during the coronation is the anointing. This is when the Archbishop of Canterbury will use holy oil from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to mark a cross on the King.

This oil will carry a special connection with King Charles' paternal grandmother, as Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, rests in a crypt on the Mount of Olives.

Charles will adhere to tradition and keep the moment he is anointed with holy oil private during his coronation, ITV News understands.

The Ampulla and Coronation Spoon. Credit: PA

The oil is stored in the Ampulla, a gold vessel in the shape of an eagle, first supplied in 1661.

The coronation spoon - first recorded in 1349 - is the oldest object in the collection and has been hailed as the “one real great survivor” of the medieval regalia.

The archbishop pours oil from the ampulla into the spoon, then dips two fingers in the oil to anoint the head, chest and hands of the monarch.


There are five swords being used during the Coronation ceremony.

The Sword of State is carried before the Sovereign to symbolise royal authority, while the Sword of Temporal Justice represents the role as head of the Armed Forces.

The Sword of Temporal Justice. Credit: Buckingham Palace/PA

The Sword of Spiritual Justice signifies the monarch as defender of the faith, and the Sword of Mercy has a blunted end to symbolise mercy.

Last is the jewelled sword of offering - one of the objects the sovereign is invested with during the ceremony after the anointing.

Queen Elizabeth wearing the St. Edward Crown and carrying the Sceptre and the Rod, following her crowning in 1953. Credit: PA

Spurs and armills

During the ceremony the King will be robed and presented with a number of symbolic objects, including the sword, spurs and armills.

The spurs represent the knightly values of protecting the weak and the church. The armills symbolise the bond the monarch has with their people and the values of sincerity and wisdom.

The Orb

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign's Orb and Sceptre. Credit: PA

The Orb is placed in the right hand of the monarch as they are vested with the symbols of sovereignty. It is then placed on the altar before the moment of crowning.

It’s a symbol of the globe, divided into the three continents known in England in Medieval times and represents worldly and Christian power.

The Orb was placed on the late Queen's draped coffin, along with the Imperial State crown and the Soverign's Sceptre, for her funeral and while she was lying in state at Westminster Hall.

Two Sceptres

The Sovereign's Sceptre. Credit: Buckingham Palace/PA

The two Sovereign’s Sceptres will also be used at coronation.

The sceptre with a cross represents temporal and spiritual power. It is placed in the monarch's right hand, where they keep hold of it during crowning and throning.

A sceptre with a dove will also be used, which symbolises the holy spirit.

Listen to the latest Royal news and all you need to know about the coronation on our podcast, The Royal Rota...

Queen Consort's Sceptre with dove

The Queen Consort will touch two sceptres, including an ivory rod topped with a dove, symbolising equity and mercy.

Sovereign's ring

King Charles will touch the sovereign's ring - symbolising dignity, faith and commitment to the church.

The ring was made for the Coronation of William IV in 1831, and has been used by every monarch since, apart from Queen Victoria.

Queen Consort's ring

The Queen Consort’s ring - a ruby in a gold setting - was made for William IV’s consort, Queen Adelaide, in 1831.

All consorts have used it, including Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.