King’s coronation regalia: What all the crowns, swords and orbs mean

The coronation regalia is at the heart of the crown jewels, locked away in the Tower of London.

The King’s crowning ceremony will be a rare outing for the sacred collection, with dozens of important and symbolic objects to keep an eye out for.

From crowns and swords to sceptres and orbs, here’s what you can expect to see on 6 May as the King and Queen Consort are officially crowned – and what they all mean.

St Edward’s Crown

Starting with one of the biggest first – literally, as St Edward’s Crown weighs 2.23kg (nearly 5lbs).

This solid gold crown, set with precious stones and fringed with ermine, will be put on the King’s head at the moment of crowning.

That is the only time the crown is worn. Historically it wasn’t allowed out of Westminster Abbey, and so a second crown was made for the monarch to wear as they processed out of the coronation ceremony.

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

Imperial state crown

This is the monarch’s “working crown”, worn on formal occasions such as the state opening of parliament.

Like the St Edward’s Crown, it features a plush purple velvet cap beneath its gold arches.

Made for the coronation of King George VI in 1937, the crown is set with 2,868 diamonds as well as 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls.

According to legend, one of its stones, the black prince ruby, was worn by Henry V in his helmet at the Battle of Agincourt.

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Queen Mary’s crown

The Queen Consort will also be crowned during the coronation and will wear Queen Mary’s crown.

It’s been moved from the Tower of London, where it is normally kept, to be resized and updated to suit her preferences; the number of arches will be reduced from eight to four.

The crown was originally commissioned for the coronation of Mary of Teck as Queen Consort at the coronation of King George V in 1911.

After the coronation, the Queen Consort will be known as Queen Camilla.

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Ampulla and spoon

The gold ampulla, cast in the form of an eagle with outspread wings, and the coronation spoon are used for the most sacred part of the service – the anointing of the monarch with holy oil.

The eagle’s head unscrews so it can be filled with oil and there is a tiny hole in its beak from which oil is poured into the spoon.

Legend has it Thomas A Becket saw the objects in a dream, presented to him by the Virgin Mary to use to anoint future kings.

The 12th-century spoon is the oldest object used in the coronation and a “great survivor”, according to Kathryn Jones, senior curator at the Royal Collection Trust.

Almost all regalia was melted down in 1649 during the English Civil War but the spoon escaped, bought by a man who looked after Charles I’s wardrobe and later sold back to Charles II.

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

The holy oil – chrism – was consecrated at a ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in March.

It was created using olives which had been harvested from groves on the Mount of Olives, a mountain ridge which runs from Jerusalem’s Old City which has major religious symbolism for Christians and Jews.

It’s perfumed with sesame, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli, benzoin and amber as well as orange blossom.

St Edward’s staff

The staff is described as an “enigmatic object” by Charles Farris, public historian for Historic Royal Palaces.

That’s because no one is quite sure what it was originally used for.

In 1660, regalia was remade for the coronation of Charles II after it had all been destroyed, and despite the purpose and appearance of the staff having been forgotten, it too was reconstructed.

It has continued to be carried in coronation processions although it serves no function in the ceremony.

Three swords

The swords of mercy, spiritual justice and temporal justice are likely to be some of the first objects you see in the coronation, as they are carried – upright and unsheathed – before the sovereign in the procession into Westminster Abbey.

The swords symbolise royal powers and responsibilities and the sword of mercy has a symbolically blunt end.

Jewelled sword of offering, spurs and armills

The sword of offering is one of the objects the sovereign is invested with during the ceremony, after the anointing.

The King will be robed and presented with a number of symbolic objects, including the sword, spurs and armills, or bracelets.

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

Two sceptres

The sceptre with cross represents temporal and spiritual power. It is placed in the monarch’s right hand and they keep hold of it during crowning and throning and carry it in the procession.

The sceptre with dove goes in the left hand and represents spiritual power, with the dove symbolising the holy spirit.


The orb is a symbol of the globe, divided into the three continents known of in England in Medieval times and representing worldly and Christian power.

Sovereign’s ring

The sovereign’s ring features rubies set in the shape of a St George’s cross on top of a sapphire.

The ring symbolises dignity, faith and the monarch’s commitment to their people and the church.