King to be covered in golden robes weighing 4kg for moment of crowning
The King will be wearing a collection of heavy golden robes when he is crowned King at the coronation on Saturday (6 May).
Assisted by Prince William, the monarch will put on layer upon layer of glittering coronation vestments, inspired by priestly attire, in the middle of Westminster Abbey’s coronation theatre during the religious service.
For the investiture, during which the crowning takes place, Charles will be given a long shimmering gold-sleeved coat to wear called the Supertunica, created for his great-grandfather George V in 1911 and worn at successive coronations including by Elizabeth II.
Made of gold cloth, which is silk thread wrapped in thin pieces of gold or silver gilt metal, the Supertunica, also known as the Close Pall of Cloth of Gold, weighs around 2kg and is embroidered with stylised arabesques and floral motifs.
On top of the Supertunica will be placed a floor-length cloak called the Imperial Mantle – or Robe Royal – made for the King’s extravagant ancestor George IV in 1821.
The Prince of Wales, who is the heir to the throne, will play a role in the service by entering the coronation theatre to assist with placing the robe on his father.
It weighs around 3-4kg while the St Edward’s Crown will add an extra 2.23kg to the King’s load after his crowning.
Made from cloth of gold, it is brocaded with colourful motifs including fleur-de-lis as a nod to the ancient claim of England over France, as well as imperial eagles, and national floral emblems of red-pink roses, blue thistles and green shamrocks.
Caroline de Guitaut, deputy surveyor of the King’s works of art for the Royal Collection Trust, described the clothing as “absolutely redolent” of the coronation ceremony and the most important historic textiles in the Royal Collection.
“They have clearly incredible historic significance, but they’re also significant because of the sacred nature of their use during the investiture part of the coronation ceremony,” she said
Monarchs in the modern era have traditionally reused the garments, just as Charles is, but they usually receive a new Coronation Sword Belt and a Coronation Glove to be used during the ceremony.
Charles, for reasons of sustainability and efficiency, has decided to also reuse the belt and glove worn by his grandfather – the last male monarch –George VI.
Ms de Guitaut said: “It’s quite unusual in modern times... It was the King’s personal decision and it’s in keeping with this idea of sustainability and efficiency to reuse these pieces.
“They are in remarkable condition and it’s also reflecting back to the coronation of his grandfather King George VI.”
Buckingham Palace has yet to confirm what the King will wear - uniform or otherwise - under his Robe of State on his way to the Abbey. In previous ceremonies, the King or Queen has traditionally worn silk stockings and breeches.
However, recent reports have suggested that Charles has been advised to wear military uniform underneath his robe at the ceremony.
As reported by The Sun, a source said: “Senior aides think breeches look too dated.” When contacted by The Independent, Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
With additional reporting from PA.