Unless you have been fortunate enough to receive an invitation to the coronation of King Charles III you will, like me, no doubt be watching the event on the television.

It is only the second one in my lifetime and I was only a few months old when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, so it will be a first and therefore an historic occasion for most of us. When the King let it be known that he wanted a much shorter and different coronation to his mother, it got me thinking as to how coronations were carried out in the past.

The first one at Westminster Abbey was that of William The Conqueror which was held on Christmas Day in 1066. Prior to this there was no fixed church where they were held. When Edward The Confessor built Westminster Abbey he did not have coronations in mind and his successor, Harold Godwinson, was likely to have been the first monarch to be crowned there. Henry III rebuilt Westminster Abbey from 1245 with coronations very much in mind and the 'new' abbey had its first coronation with that of Edward I in 1274.

There have only been two monarchs that were never crowned: Edward V, the 'boy king,' who was one of the two princes presumed murdered in The Tower of London, and Edward VIII who abdicated in 1936. The first joint coronation was that of William and Mary in April 1689.

In the 18th and 19th centuries public spectacles sometimes overshadowed the occasion and things did not run with the level of planning and military precision as they do today. At George III's coronation in 1761, which took place two weeks after his marriage, the day was marred by many mistakes including the Archbishop of Canterbury dropping the crown he was carrying and the state trumpeters making numerous errors. During the sermon the congregation in the nave started eating and drinking what they had brought with them. The clattering of cutlery and chinking of glasses resulted in much laughter ringing around the Abbey. When the Queen retired to her 'visiting chamber', which had been specially constructed for her behind the high altar, she found it occupied by the Duke of Newcastle who was availing himself of the facilities!  When the King complained he was assured it would not happen at the next coronation! The procession from Westminster Hall to the Abbey was followed by a service that lasted six hours and a banquet back at Westminster Hall that finished at 10 o’clock that evening!

The coronation of George IV in 1821 was even more theatrical, as he barred his wife Caroline of Brunswick from attending the event. She was much loved by the people but hated by her husband and at the coronation he ordered the Abbey door to be slammed in her face when she tried to enter. They had separated a year after their wedding and she was exiled from Britain for six years, returning for the coronation. She died there a few weeks later. The coronation was the most extravagant and expensive in history.

The coronation of William IV in 1831 nearly did not happen as he had to be persuaded to actually have one. He spent so little on it that it became known as 'the penny coronation'.

With Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1838 it became much more of a religious and solemn occasion, and that of course continued with Queen Elizabeth’s in 1953. This was the first one to be televised and it did mean that millions of people around the world could witness the spectacle. The picture shows the late Queen Elizabeth II in her procession after the actual coronation.

I do hope you enjoy the coronation and the weekend that goes with it, however you celebrate.

If you would like to find out more about local history and Exmouth Museum, visit www.exmouthmuseum.co.uk or email Mike at exmouthmuseum@gmail.com