The Coronation ceremony, with other State ceremonials, falls under the jurisdiction of the Earl Marshal, one of the Great Officers of State.

Investiture with the Sword of State

The Officers of Arms, or heralds, act as his Staff. They also maintain the official records of coronations, which are held in the archives of the College of Arms. On this page is a small selection of items in the College archives relating to the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

The image on the right shows the moment after The Queen was handed the Sword of State (the Jewelled Sword of Offering) by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Coronation Chair on which Her Majesty sits was made for Edward I in 1300-1301; its cushion, made for the Coronation of 1953, is one of the treasures of the College of Arms. Close by the throne, Officers of Arms can be seen looking on, wearing their distinctive tabards and white breeches (the only occasion on which white, rather than black, breeches are worn).

Pass to South Choir Gallery front compressedPass to South Choir Gallery reverse compressedAll members of the congregation received an invitation from The Queen, as well as a ticket from the Earl Marshal. The tickets varied in colour depending on where in Westminster Abbey the person was to sit. The reverse provided a plan, with the route to be taken their seat.

Armbands compressed


The arm brassards shown on the left were worn during rehearsals by (from top to bottom): Abbey staff; Gold Staff Officers; tailors and technical attendants; doctors and medical attendants.

Gold Staves compressed

The congregation were marshalled and ushered in Westminster Abbey by Gold Staff Officers, and others had related responsibilities. They were marked out by the staves they carried. The Gold Staff Officers' staves were designed by the Goldsmiths' Company, following discussions between the company and the Earl Marshal's Office about aspects of their design and their cost. Shown here are drawings of designs for the staves of the Gold Staff Officers, alongside seven examples of different staves.






Coronation Book vol 6 compressedThis drawing is one of a whole volume of similar vitally important plans, detailing every stage of the Coronation service. They were drawn up as an aid for those planning the ceremony – the arrows show the movements of key figures at each stage.

You can now follow Peter O'Donoghue, York Herald, on Twitter, where he tweets on College news, heraldry, genealogy, ceremonial, history and other relevant subjects. Please note that his is not a College of Arms account and the views expressed there are not those of the College of Arms.


StGeorgeSt  George in armour with shield, lance and pennon

This image of St George appears in an German armorial manuscript of the early fifteenth century. He wears armour characteristic of the period and the crest is full of exuberance. On his shield and pennon St George displays the arms Argent a Cross Gules always ascribed to him. In the sixteenth century the manuscript belonged to a Clarenceux King of Arms, but it was given to the College of Arms in 1669 along with thirty-six others by Thomas Povey, a civil servant and courtier.

Arundel Castle, the magnificent home of the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, opens to visitors on 29th March, and full details of opening times can be found here. The Earl Marshal has a supervisory role over the College of Arms, and Arundel's collections and decorative effects include much that is of armorial interest. On display at present is the College of Arms exhibition Crowns and Crests: Heraldry in the Round. This comprises a large collection of carved wooden Crests of twentieth-century Knights of the Garter.

Sword detail1 A4Sword and Dagger: The College of Arms holds three artefacts that have a traditional association with the battle of Flodden, where English and Scottish forces famously met in September 1513. These consist of a sword (pictured left), a matching dagger, and a ring.

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