The Coronation of Queen Anne: Rituals and Relationships

The Coronation of Queen Anne: Rituals and Relationships

The coronation of Queen Anne was a long process; many steps and rituals had to be carried out before she was officially named Queen of England and celebrations could begin. The coronation itself involves multiple rituals involving different people for different reasons. The first such ritual was the procession to the church. Aside from the procession, many rituals involving the priests and the clergy were required. Those people outside of the advisors and servants the queen surrounded herself with, the commoners, played a significant role in the coronation ceremony as well.

The procession to the church before the coronation ceremony is extremely ritualistic and symbolic. This procession included a variety of clergy members, including bishops and archbishops; a small marching band; a variety of aristocrats; a children’s choir; the queen arrived walking beneath a canopy born by sixteen barons; behind the queen were her ladies maids and guardsmen (Thoms 411). This procession has not changed very much since Elizabeth Tudor’s days in 1559, with the exception that Elizabeth’s procession was the day before her coronation while Anne’s was on the day of her coronation (Warkentin 15). The point of the procession was to introduce the Queen to the kingdom, even though she is one of the most famous people in the kingdom and probably does not need an introductory procession. However, this procession was not simply introducing Anne, because the kingdom already knew who she was, it was about instilling a sense of unity in the kingdom. The procession seems like a waste of time and money, but in reality it was a very important step toward keeping a certain level of support throughout her reign. It was about letting the people get a better idea as to who she was. In general, a procession of this magnitude in which people in the big and small cities come together symbolizes the unity of a country. This is especially true when considering Elizabeth’s procession; after the death of her sister Mary, also known as Bloody Mary, the nation needed something to bring them together and signify an end to the violence in the nation.

The entire coronation process is extremely religious, but at the same time, very symbolic of the Queen’s power. The clergy, specifically archbishops and bishops, were significant figures in almost every step of the coronation process. Almost every step of the coronation process began with a prayer led by the archbishop. The ceremony itself took place inside a church. Throughout the ceremony the soon to be queen must answer questions asked of her by the archbishop. These range from her ability to rule over the people of England in a fair and just way, to whether or not she will promise to rule as a protestant. All of these questions are still asked of monarchs in England today during coronation; however it seems to be more for traditional purposes than people actually caring about what the questions are asking. In fact, this was the same case in England in 1702 during Queen Anne’s coronation. Although the people did care about her answers, especially because of the ongoing distrust of Catholics, the answers given were more ritualistic than sincere opinion. Furthermore, the heavy involvement of the clergy in Queen Anne’s coronation is symbolic because, up until she is crowned the power of the clergy is clear. However, after she is crowned, the archbishops and bishops begin to “[kneel] before her, one by one” (Thoms 436). This is a very important ritual demonstrating the queen’s power; those who only bow to God kneel to her. This exemplifies the notion that the monarch is the head of the protestant church and therefore the highest ranking members of the clergy must kneel before the queen for she is above them in the protestant hierarchy. This also makes it clear to the people of England that, firstly, she is a protestant, and secondly – probably more importantly – she is the highest figure of authority in England with no one above her but God himself. Finally, the coronation is ended with a prayer asking God to make Queen Anne a wise and a fair leader for England.

The entire coronation ceremony does not occur between only the heir and the clergy, some members of the public are present, inside of the church when the coronation takes place. Throughout the ceremony they are asked to participate in chants and choruses for the queen. In addition to the parts of the coronation when they are asked to participate, there is also spontaneous cheering after the queen has answered a question with a response bordering on nationalistic, or after a prayer, or after a song. At the end of the coronation of Queen Anne, some members of the aristocracy begin throwing money, in the form of gold and silver coins, on behalf of the Queen. Furthermore, the giving away of money is a symbol of the Queen’s generosity toward the people. After the coronation of Queen Anne the crowd that was gathered inside of the church began cheering “God save the Queen” (Thoms 439). This is important socially and politically because it shows public support for the new monarch. It also gives insight into the relationship between Queen Anne and the people of England.

The coronation of a king or queen is an extremely important event in the history of a country, it can signify the end of a bad era, as it did when Elizabeth I ascended to the throne, or it can show signs of a weak monarch. Either way, coronation ceremonies and all of the rituals that go with them are symbolic of the relationships between the monarch and the people. Queen Anne’s procession was huge and grand but it still managed to find a way to help the people connect with her. Her coronation ceremony was full of rituals and tradition, and each one had meaning beyond the surface. Whether to unify a people, connect to subjects, or to demonstrate power and authority, all of the pomp and circumstance had meaning.

Works Cited
Thoms, William John. "Coronation Ceremonies." The Book of the Court; Exhibiting the History, Duties, and Privileges of the Several Ranks of the English Nobility and Gentry, Particularly of the Great Officers of State, and Members of the Royal Household ... London: H.G. Bohn, 1844. 406-41. Print.

Warkentin, Germaine, and John Carmi Parsons. Introduction. The Queen's Majesty's Passage & Related Documents. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2004. N. pag. Print.