King Charles’s coronation: The aristocrats taking on the task of crowning royalty

St Edward's Crown, The Orb, the Sceptre with Cross, the Sceptre with Dove and the Sovereign's Ring. (Royal Collection Trust/PA)
St Edward's Crown, The Orb, the Sceptre with Cross, the Sceptre with Dove and the Sovereign's Ring. (Royal Collection Trust/PA)

It has been announced which officials will be taking part in the coronation ceremony of King Charles on 6 May at Westminster Abbey.

Listed on the government's official website, some of those involved have "historic claims" to play their official roles in the coronation ceremony — which will see Charles and Camilla, anointed, invested and take their thrones.

Hereditary right is, of course, a thread which runs through the whole concept of a coronation.

From the Earl Marshal — who helps plan the coronation and other state occasions like Queen Elizabeth's funeral — being a role that is always held by the Duke of Norfolk to the new monarch themselves: the occasion is entirely predicated upon the idea that certain offices or roles should be held by right of birth.

There are several roles which are traditionally undertaken by non-royals with historic claims during the coronation ceremony, and they each had to prove the claim they had to the role to the Coronation Claims Office — which is part of the Cabinet.

Over 200 people applied and had their claims assessed by the Coronation Claims Office, but only 13 have been successful.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has said of their appointments: "These roles are steeped in history - in some cases dating back 800 years - so it will be wonderful to see these centuries-old traditions played out on Coronation Day.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is carried into The Palace of Westminster by guardsmen from The Queen's Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards during the procession for the Lying-in State of Queen Elizabeth II on September 14, 2022 in London, England. Queen Elizabeth II's coffin is taken in procession on a Gun Carriage of The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall where she will lay in state until the early morning of her funeral. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
The Duke of Norfolk in his capacity as Earl Marshall organised the late Queen's funeral. (Getty Images)

"Those given Coronation roles will be at the heart of this historic ceremony, but of course the entire nation will have its part to play in events up and down the country, in what promises to be a weekend to remember."

The individuals proved their claims by providing evidence which showed that they are the appropriate officer holder or that they hold the traditional title or land that means they have a claim to take part.

It had already been announced by the palace that Prince George, nine, will act as one of the King's pages of honour. Camilla's grandsons and her grandnephew — Gus and Louis Lopes, Freddy Parker-Bowles and Arthur Elliot — will act as her pages.

Working members of the Royal Family, which include the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and Anne, the Princess Royal, are also reported to be taking part in the procession back to Buckingham Palace after the ceremony is complete.

Which roles in the coronation are hereditary?

There are several hereditary roles involved in the coronation, the most senior of which are the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Earl Marshal, and the Lord High Constable — who are three of the great offices of state.

The Earl Marshal is a role always held by the Dukes of Norfolk, while the Lord Great Chamberlain is a position the hereditary right to which rotates between three aristocratic families: the Ancasters, the Carringtons and the Cholmondleys.

The Imperial State Crown is presented to Lord Great Chamberlain David Cholmondeley, Marquess of Cholmondeley, (L) in the Royal Gallery during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in central London on May 27, 2015. The State Opening of Parliament marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and the Queen's Speech sets out the governments agenda for the coming session. AFP PHOTO / POOL / GEOFF PUGH (Photo by GEOFF PUGH / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GEOFF PUGH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The last Lord Great Chamberlain was David Cholmondeley, Marquess of Cholmondeley. (Getty Images)

Many of the other hereditary roles involve holding or carrying some of the official regalia which Charles will be invested with during the service.

The Earl of Erroll, for instance, traditionally has acted as the Lord High Constable, which means they follow the monarch into formal occasions and may hold a sword of state at the coronation.

The Earl of Loudoun — Simon Abney-Hastings — will also be attending and carrying the spurs, and it has even been speculated before that he has a "rival claim" to the British throne.

The Earl of Dundee will carry the Lion Rampant flag of Scotland during the service and Lord Hastings will also play a part in the proceedings, but it is yet to be confirmed what that will be.

Which roles in the coronation are given to certain officer holders?

Certain offices or jobs also have a right to participate in the coronation service, like the Lord Mayor of London, Nicholas Lyons.

The Lord Chancellor — who is appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister from the Cabinet — will also take part, as will the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery (a senior civil servant).

Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross. (Royal Collection Trust/PA)
Some of the people who have had their claims accepted may hold regalia like the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross. (Royal Collection Trust/PA)

Barons of the Cinque Ports are elected from coastal towns mostly in Kent and Sussex and will play a part on the day, although historically they played a bigger part in the ceremony and over time their role has been reduced.

The Garter King of Arms — who is the most senior of the three King of Arms — will also take part, the position is currently held by David Vines White.

The Lord Lyon King of Arms is the Scottish Heraldic authority and their representatives have also successfully had their claims of office proven to attend the coronation.

Which clergy take part in the coronation?

The Archbishop of Canterbury will conduct the coronation service, supported by the Dean of Westminster.

The Bishop of Durham, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh and the Dean and Chapter of the Collegiate Church of St Peter will also all play a part in the service.

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