As the coronation of King Charles III fast approaches, an array of regalia is being prepared to take centre stage, encapsulating the history and significance of the occasion.
Nestled within the Tower of London, the Coronation Regalia's sacred and secular artefacts symbolise the monarch's devotion and duty to the country. These treasures have graced coronation ceremonies for centuries, and on May 6 they will once again find their place at Westminster Abbey.
St Edward's Crown
St Edward's Crown will be placed on the head of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey on coronation day.
It was created for Charles II in 1661 after a previous medieval version was melted down in 1649. The original crown held a connection with the 11th-century royal saint Edward the Confessor, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England.
St Edward's Crown may not be an exact replica of its predecessor but still carries much of its resemblance.
Topped with an orb and a cross, the crown symbolises the Christian world. Its solid gold frame is adorned with jewels and finished with a velvet cap and ermine band.
Last worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation in 1953, St Edward's Crown has been temporarily removed from the Tower of London to be modified for the coming event.
Imperial State Crown
The Imperial State Crown, steeped in centuries of history, plays a pivotal role in the coronation service.
It will be exchanged for St Edward's Crown at the service's conclusion and is also worn by the monarch during ceremonial events, such as the State Opening of Parliament.
The term "Imperial State Crown" traces its origins back to the 15th century when English monarchs adopted a design with enclosing arches to symbolise England's independence.
The current version was crafted for George VI's coronation in 1937.
However, its design draws inspiration from a crown created for Queen Victoria in 1838 by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, the crown jewellers of that era.
Two maces were made between 1660 and 1695, crafted from silver gilt and oak. These ceremonial emblems of authority take centre stage at events such as the State Opening of Parliament.
Based on medieval weapons, the maces will provide an eye-catching symbol of royalty to accompany the sovereign’s procession to Westminster Abbey.
Sword of State
The Sword of State has an intriguing history, too. Back in the days of King Charles II, two such swords were crafted in 1660 and 1678.
Only one survives, and it has been a part of many coronations, including the 1969 investiture of the prince of Wales, the man who is now king.
It features William III's coat of arms on its scabbard.
Swords of Temporal Justice, Spiritual Justice and Mercy
During a coronation, three more swords feature: the Sword of Temporal Justice (for the monarch's role as head of armed forces), the Sword of Spiritual Justice (representing the monarch as defender of the faith), and the Sword of Mercy, a blunt-tipped blade said to symbolise the sovereign's mercy.
These swords have been in use since Charles I's coronation in 1626 and feature 16th-century steel blades and 17th-century hilts.
St Edward's Staff
This artefact, known as St Edward's Staff, has a history rooted in the tales of royal saints.
Originating from an earlier staff called the Long Sceptre, St Edward's Staff was carried during 15th and 16th-century coronation processions.
It symbolised a powerful connection to Edward the Confessor. Just think of the centuries of awe and reverence this stunning staff has inspired, as it continues to evoke the grandeur of royal heritage today.
Charles Farris, public historian at Historic Royal Palaces, said because its former use was unknown, there had been doubt over whether a new one would be produced.
“But Charles II said ‘no, I want the full set’, and it was made even though no one quite knew what it was for,” Mr Farris said.
Ampulla holding the Chrism oil
The sacred Chrism oil, used to anoint King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla, has come all the way from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem.
This special oil is held within the Ampulla, a golden vessel shaped like an eagle with outspread wings. When the time comes, the oil will flow through an opening in the bird's beak.
The Ampulla was made in 1661 by the crown jeweller Sir Robert Vyner for Charles II's coronation.
Its design was inspired by a smaller, earlier vessel, which itself was rooted in a mystical 14th-century legend.
The Virgin Mary appeared to St Thomas a Becket, presenting him with a golden eagle and a vial of oil to anoint future monarchs of England, according to the legend.
The silver-gilt Coronation Spoon holds a unique place in history, as the oldest object still in use at coronations.
First recorded in 1349 among St Edward's Regalia in Westminster Abbey, it is the only surviving example of royal goldsmiths' work from the 12th century. It may have been created for King Henry II or King Richard I.
The spoon was first used in King James I's ceremony in 1603 and has been used in every subsequent coronation.
After being sold in 1649, it was returned in 1661 for Charles II's coronation, adorned with delicate seed pearls on its handle as a symbol of renewal.
The golden spurs, intricately crafted with leather and velvet, were created in 1661 for Charles II, but previous versions can be traced all the way back to Richard I, the Lionheart, in 1189.
These regal spurs are said to symbolise knighthood and chivalrous ideals.
Over time, the spurs have been adapted to reflect the changing needs of each ceremony.
In 1820, for example, they were altered for George IV's coronation.
Sword of Offering
The Sword of Offering, crafted in 1820, is a fusion of artistry and symbolism.
Its steel blade is mounted in gold and adorned with jewels that depict a rose, thistle, shamrock, oak leaves, acorns and lion's heads, each representing a different aspect of the United Kingdom.
The sword rests in a lavish gold-covered leather scabbard.
First used at the coronation of King George IV, the Sword of Offering serves as an enduring symbol of the monarch's commitment to their people and the realm.
The two Armills are bracelets made from gold, champleve and basse-taille enamel, lined in velvet, and are thought to relate to ancient symbols of knighthood and military leadership.
They have been referred to during previous coronations as the "bracelets of sincerity and wisdom". The Armills date back to 1661 and have been used at every coronation from Charles II’s to George VI’s in 1937.
The Sovereign's Orb, a majestic golden sphere crafted in the 17th century, serves as a striking representation of the monarch's power and connection to the Christian world.
It is divided into three sections, each adorned with bands of jewels, symbolising the three continents known during medieval times.
As an emblem of the sovereign's authority and spiritual role, the Sovereign's Orb continues to hold a prominent place in royal ceremonies.
The Sovereign's Ring features a sapphire with a ruby cross set in diamonds.
It was created for the coronation of William IV in 1831 and has since graced the fingers of monarchs from Edward VII onwards during their coronations.
At the coronation, two Sovereign's Sceptres will symbolise aspects of the monarch's responsibilities.
The Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross, representing temporal power and good governance, consists of a gold rod topped by a heart-shaped structure adorned with enamel and the Cullinan I diamond. This sceptre was made for Charles II, with the Cullinan added in 1901.
Meanwhile, the Sovereign's Sceptre with Dove, also known as the Rod of Equity and Mercy, highlights the sovereign's spiritual role. The enamelled dove with outspread wings signifies the Holy Ghost and was created by Sir Robert Vyner in 1661.
Queen Mary's Crown
In a break from modern tradition, Camilla, the Queen Consort has chosen to wear Queen Mary's Crown for the coronation.
It will be the first time in recent history that an existing crown will be used for the Coronation of the Consort.
Minor alterations are being made to Queen Mary's Crown, including the incorporation of the Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds, which were part of Queen Elizabeth II's personal jewellery collection.
The design was inspired by Queen Alexandra's Crown from 1902.
Similar to its predecessor, it can be worn without the arches as a circlet, a style that Queen Mary herself chose for the coronation of her son George VI in 1937.
Queen Consort's Ring
The Queen Consort's Ring, an exquisite ruby set in gold, has a history that begins with the coronation of William IV and Queen Adelaide in 1831.
Since then, it has graced the hands of three more queen consorts – Alexandra, Mary and the Queen Mother.
Queen Consort’s Rod
The Queen Consort's Rod with Dove, echoing the design of the Sovereign's Sceptre, carries powerful symbolism.
Representing "equity and mercy", this stunning piece features a dove with folded wings, embodying the Holy Ghost and said to highlight the queen consort's spiritual role in the monarchy.
The Queen Consort's Sceptre with Cross dates back to 1685 when it was supplied by Sir Robert Vyner for the coronation of Mary of Modena, Queen Consort of James II.
This exquisite sceptre is inlaid with rock crystals.