Queen Elizabeth 1 Coronation January 15th

Queen Elizabeth’s litter at her royal entry, accompanied by footmen and Gentlemen Pensioners. Unidentified engraver. (Wikipedia)

Today is the most depressing day of the year, so called Blue Monday. It was only a marketing stunt but seems to have stuck. So, ‘officially’ Blue Monday is the third Monday of the year – in 2024 156 January. It was worked out using this ‘equation’:

[W + (D-d)] x TQ
M x NA

(W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action. (https://news.sky.com )

Queen Elizabeth 1’s Coronation

Queen Elizabeth 1 ascended the throne on 17 Nov 1558. Her courtiers immediately began work on the Coronation, scheduled for January 15th 1559. In terms of Coronations, this was rushed. The precise date was, in fact, chosen by the Royal Astrologer, John Dee on a date that the celestial bodies deemed propitious, and which was sooner rather than later because Elizabeth’s position was not secure.

Her accession was certainly greeted with an outbreak of joy by the Protestant population. But the supporters of her dead sister Mary 1 did not want a Protestant monarch. On hearing the news of the death of her sister, Elizabeth rushed to occupy the Tower of London, even shooting London Bridge, such was her haste. She consulted lawyers about the legal position. Elizabeth, and her sister Mary, had been declared bastards by two Succession Acts passed during Henry VIII’s ‘troubled’ married life. The Third Succession Act of 1543/44, following Henry’s marriage to Katherine Parr, had restored Mary and Elizabeth to the Royal line but did not restore their legitimacy. Rather than tackle the complex legislation, Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, advised:

“the English laws have long since pronounced, that the Crowne once worn quite taketh away all Defects whatsoever“.

(Wikipedia)

Which, when you think about it, basically legitimises successful any ‘Coup’! And, from a legal perspective, she was still, arguably, illegitimate.

The Coronation began with a procession from the Whitehall Palace in Westminster back to the Tower of London for the Vigil, then a Royal Procession through the City of London to Westminster Abbey for the Coronation service, followed by the traditional Coronation Banquet at Westminster Hall.

The Vigil Procession was on the Thames where she was escorted to the Tower by ‘ships, galleys, brigantines‘ sumptuously decorated. The Royal Entry consisted of 5 Pageants and 11 Triumphal Arches.

The first pageant showed the Queen’s descent from Henry VII and his marriage to Elizabeth of York. This marriage effectively ended the Wars of the Roses by linking the House of York and the House of Lancaster. The pageant also emphasised her ‘Englishness’ as opposed to the Spanish affiliations of Mary. The second pageant demonstrated that the Queen would rule by the four virtues of True Religion, Love of Subjects, Wisdom and Justice, while trampling on Superstition, Ignorance and other vices.

The third pageant, at the upper end of Cheapside near the Guildhall, provided the opportunity for the City to give Elizabeth a handsome crimson purse with 1000 marks of gold, showing the closeness of the City and the Crown. The fourth pageant, contrasted a decaying country during the time of Mary with a thriving one under Elizabeth. It featured the figure of Truth, who was carrying a Bible written in English and entitled ‘the Word of Truth’. The Bible was lowered on a silken thread to the Queen, who kissed it and laid it on her breast to the cheers of the crowd. She promised to read it diligently. The final pageant was Elizabeth portrayed as Deborah, the Old Testament prophet, who by rescuing Israel and ruling for 40 years was an ideal role model for Elizabeth. (https://www.rmg.co.uk/stories/topics/queen-elizabeth-coronation)

‘All the houses in Cheapside were dressed with banners and streamers, and the richest carpets, stuffs and cloth of gold tapestried the streets’.

British History.ac.uk Vol 1 pp315 -332.

The Coronation was traditional – in Latin and presided by a Catholic Bishop, but there were significant innovations. Important passages were read both in Latin and in English, and the Queen added to the Coronation Oath that she would rule according to the ‘true profession of the Gospel established in this Kingdom.’ This showed the way forward, introducing innovation gradually into tradition, but emphasizing that the fundamentals had indeed changed. This was going to be a Protestant reign.

Please do remember, I wrote a best-selling book on the Kings and Queens of Britain which k has been reprinted several times and is available below.

First published in January 2023, republished January 2024

May 3rd – Roodmas, the True Cross and the Coronation

cutting from the Shropshire News article on the True Cross and the Coronation
Shropshire News article on the True Cross and the Coronation

I was just finishing my piece on Roodmas and the True Cross, starting to look up the history of the piece of the Cross that was held by the Duke of Buckingham in the 17th Century, when I came across this amazing story in the Shropshire News!

It seems two pieces of the True Cross have been given to Charles by the Pope! They have been put into a cross called the Welsh Cross which will take part in the Coronation Procession and then the King is giving the Cross (I assume with the pieces of the Holy Cross) to the Church in Wales. Let the Shropshire News tell the story:

Shropshire News article on the True Cross and the Coronation
Part 2 Shropshire News article on the True Cross and the Coronation

This is quite extraordinarily medieval, and fits in with the news that we have been asked to take an oath of allegiance to the new King.

I, (Insert full name), do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles, his heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/royals/swearing-allegiance-king-charles-its-29861318

It is a clear reminder that we are subjects not citizens and news that we still set store by superstitions. Its a delicate time because many non-natural-Royalists, like me, thought the Queen did a great job as a non-political Head of State. We remain unsure about Charles. We have heard calls to modernise the Royal Family. But this seems to be doing the opposite. Time will tell.

Roodmas is celebrated on May 3rd and September 14th, although the Church of England aligned itself with the Catholic Church’s main celebration on September 14th.

Rood is another word for the Cross. Parish Churches used to have a Rood Screen separating the holy Choir from the more secular Nave. This screen was topped with a statue of the Crucified Jesus.

The two dates of Roodmas reflects that it commemorates two events:

The Discovery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem in 326 by Queen Helena, wife of Constantius Chlorus and mother of Constantine the Great. Most of the Cross was sent back to the care of Constantine the Great.

The part of the Holy Cross that was left in Jerusalem was taken by Persians but recovered by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628 in a peace treaty.

Queen Helena found the Cross with the nails, and the crown of thorns. She authenticated it by placing the Cross in contact with a deathly sick women who was revived by the timber of the Cross.

Over the years the Cross was shivered into ever smaller pieces as Emperors, Kings, Dukes, Counts, Popes, Bishops, Abbots, and Abbesses swapped relics with each other. The fragments were cased in beautiful reliquaries and had enormous power for those of faith and those who could be helped by healing by faith.

The Duke of Buckingham had a piece in his collection in the 17th Century, which I think he must have acquired from the aftermath of the destruction of the Reformation.

But I will be saving more about the Legend of the True Cross on September 14th.

For the story of Stratford-upon-Avon and the Legend of the True Cross click here:

Digital Heritage – the Stone of Destiny yields secrets

Photo of a replica of the Stone of Destiny at Scone Abbey. This is where Scottish Kings were crowned.  The chapel is built near to Scone Palace, and on a mound of earth which was said to be made up of the dust from the shoes, and trousers of those attending coronations from all over Scotland
Replica of the Stone of Destiny at Scone Palace, Photo Kevin Flude

A study of the Stone of Destiny, the Stone of Scone, the Coronation Stone, has revealed new information. Firstly, it has some markings which look like three X’s and something like a V – perhaps Roman Numerals or more likely, crosses.

The Stone also revealed traces of copper alloy showing that a metal object had been attached to the Stone for a considerable time. The most obvious suggestion would be a relic associated with a Saint, and a Bell is one possibility.

Traces of gypsum suggested someone sometime made a plaster copy of the stone. No one knows when or why, and it has not been found.

Historic Environment, Scotland has released this fascinating 3-D scan of the stone for the public to view – it is annotated too.

You can read more at the links below, and thank you to Jean Kelly of the Britarch mailing list for alerting me to this.

Hidden symbols and ‘anomalies’ (Live Science)

Cutting-edge digital technologies (Historic Environment Scotland)

The Stone has been moved from its permanent home at Edinburgh Castle for the first time since 1996, to be placed under the Coronation Chair for Charles’s May 6 Coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Coronation Chair, with Stone of Scone under the seat.
black and white photo
Coronation Chair, with Stone of Scone under the seat.

The Stone was kept at Scone before it was stolen by Edward 1 of England, who placed it under the Coronation Chair, at Westminster, to sanctify English Kings and to make the point that he was the overlord of the Scottish. In the 1950’s Scottish students stole it back, hid it for a few weeks and then left it at Arbroath Abbey. They did this because the so-called Declaration of Arbroath (1320) is a letter to the Pope asking for his endorsement of Scotland’s claim to be independent of England. The Pope agreed.

The Stone was recovered from Arbroath taken back to Westminster. The Labour Party under Tony Blair, granted Scotland back their own Parliament and as a symbol of their regained independence, the Stone of Destiny was taken back to Scotland.

Newspaper cutting showing the Stone being taken from Arbroath Abbey
Photo of six people, including policemen carrying away the Stone of Scone from Arbroath Abbey
Newspaper cutting showing the Stone being taken from Arbroath Abbey

To my mind it should be in Scone, which is where Macbeth and most other Scottish Kings were crowned, but perhaps they thought it should be in the Capital and in the safety of the Castle. At Scone, the Stone was placed on a mound of earth which was said to be made up of the dust from the feet of those attending Coronations symbolising the consent of all of Scotland for the new King.