The royal family is no stranger to lavish events steeped in history and tradition. And that’s truer than ever when it comes to the ceremonial coronation of a monarch. The British pull out all the stops to stage a grand spectacle when crowning a new king or queen. Whether it’s the formal pomp of Westminster Abbey or the lively fun of street parties, Britain never fails to welcome new monarchs in style.
1. A king and a queen
Here we see King Edward VII and his queen Alexandra in all their regal splendor during Edward’s coronation in 1902. He had some very large shoes to fill when he came to the throne, since his direct predecessor was his mother, Victoria. She’d reigned over the British Empire for nearly 64 years. Poor Edward managed only eight years on the throne, passing away in 1910.
2. Elegant duchess
Here we have the Ninth Duchess of Marlborough dressed in her elegant finery for Edward’s coronation. Her outfit includes an extravagant pearl choker that looks like it might well actually choke her. The Duchess was an American, Consuelo Vanderbilt, who married the Ninth Duke in 1895 when she was just 17. She came with a handsome dowry of $2.5 million, a huge sum at the time.
Huge crowds packed the elaborately decorated streets to view Edward and Alexandra’s coronation procession. The original date for the ceremony was June 26, 1902. But Edward was stricken by appendicitis requiring surgery just before the big day. So the ceremony was postponed until August 9. Some were angered by the delay, and an angry mob took to the streets of the city of Watford near London in protest, according to the Croxley Green History Project website.
4. Page boys
Alexandra of Denmark, Edward’s queen, poses here with a selection of her page boys. Their costumes are gorgeous or ludicrous, depending on your personal taste. Alexandra wears a crown that’s pretty much as big as her own head. According to Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, she was chosen for Edward in the hope that “an attractive wife would curb the prince’s wayward behavior.”