Charles II is crowned
Rather unusually, though not uniquely, Charles II was crowned King of England, Scotland Ireland and France twice: the first time in Scotland in 1651, when however it was in name only; and the second at Westminster Abbey in 1661 on his restoration.
It took almost a year from Charles’s landing at Dover to his coronation day. The country had many wounds to heal, Charles had a government to re-establish, and there were other practicalities too – such as the making of a new regalia, since the old jewels had been sold off during the interregnum.
Symbolically St George’s Day was chosen for the great event. The day before the King and his court had ridden in great ceremony from The Tower to Westminster, Charles bareheaded to allow his people to see their monarch. On the day of the coronation the Abbey was crowded, partly from real curiosity and excitement, partly perhaps as it was politic for those with ambition to be seen to display loyalty and enthusiasm. Pepys waited from four in the morning for seven hours for the King to arrive.
All the ancient pomp was revived and polished to make the day as impressive as possible. This was grand theatre. None dared answer in the negative when the officiating Bishop of London asked if those present were willing to do “homage, service and bounden duty.” Likewise when the King at Arms asked if anyone wished to speak against the King’s right to be crowned. Significantly, that was followed by a general pardon being read by the Lord Chancellor. Every opportunity was seized to re-unite the nation.
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