Coronation of Edward VII
The 9th of August 1902 AD
When he finally came to the throne, upon the death of Queen Victoria on January 22 1901 , the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, was 59. He chose to reign as Edward , citing a wish to leave the name Albert, his father’s name of course, untarnished in royal history.
The coronation had been scheduled for June 26, but he developed appendicitis just two days before the great day. Thanks to the surgical skill of Frederick Treves, aided by the pioneer of antisepsis Lord Lister , the new king underwent a successful operation and recovered so quickly that the coronation was rearranged for August 9.
Held as tradition dictates at Westminster Abbey , with the 80-year-old Archbishop of Canterbury presiding, the ceremony was altered to ease the physical strain on the recuperating king, and there were doctors close at hand in case of need. Queen Alexandra was crowned with him. Edward was also very overweight – with a 48 inch waistline when he was crowned – and a very heavy smoker who suffered from bronchitis.
He was a complex character: charming, a bon viveur, fastidious about dress, and probably the most notorious royal womaniser since Charles II , with it is conjectured more than 50 extra-marital affairs to his (dis)credit. His personal diplomacy may well have staved off the coming world war for a time; Europe’s interbred royal families providing a network of contacts facilitating his work. Edward VII ’s reign was to last only nine short years, but it did provide the country with a period in stark contrast to the constraint of Victorian Britain .
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