Which British monarch had the most successful coronation?
Tracy Borman considers centuries of rulers to reveal the British monarch whose coronation she thinks outranked all others…
I'm only pretending to be torn over my answer because it has to be Elizabeth I. She is so often my top pick, but for good reason. Her coronation was a masterpiece.
Like all the best coronations, she left nothing to chance. Carefully prepared, she consulted her astrologer, John Dee, about the most auspicious date for the coronation.
He chose January 1559, so it was bitterly cold, but Elizabeth didn't care about that – if Dee said it was the right day, then it must be. She then really went to town with her coronation.
Why was Elizabeth I’s the most successful coronation?
What I love about it is that this is one of the clearest demonstrations we have of Elizabeth's loyalty to her late mother, Anne Boleyn, because she modelled her coronation on Anne's.
She used some of the same designers and adopted the same classical theme. She even had a life-size model on display of Anne Boleyn with Henry VIII, which was the first time Anne had been seen or displayed in public since her execution. That was a big statement to make.
But Elizabeth also made so many other statements. There were these little pageants, vignettes and plays along the processional routes that sent out messages about this being a new beginning. These proudly proclaimed that the bad old days of her half-sister, Mary I, were gone, and that they were no longer Catholic, but Protestant.
Of course, the main theme, though, is about Elizabeth's legitimacy. She knows that her subjects, or at least half of them, think she's a heretic, illegitimate and shouldn't be on the throne. So, she goes to town, celebrating her family tree all the way along the processional route. That is very much the clear message.
Elizabeth’s coronation has gone down in history as a great triumph. She did win people over, unlike her poor mother who ended up ridiculed on her coronation day. Elizabeth's had the opposite effect and, like so much else, she proved herself the mistress of public relations.
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