All the Ways Queen Elizabeth II Was Honored During King Charles III's Coronation

From the invites to the gold leaf-covered coach, King Charles III found many ways to invoke the memory of his late mum Queen Elizabeth II at his May 6 coronation.

By Sarah Grossbart May 06, 2023 1:01 PMTags
Watch: Royals Expert Breaks Down Coronation Controversies & Festivities

Here's the (British) tea: With the money reprinted to feature King Charles III's visage and the national anthem lyrics now vowing to save the United Kingdom's gracious king, Queen Elizabeth II's fingerprints could still be seen all over her son's May 6 coronation. (Metaphorically speaking, of course, her ever-present white gloves not allowing the former matriarch to leave anything as common as a smudge behind.) 

Because, from the start, Charles made clear that his entire reign would be in tribute to his late mum. 

"Throughout her life, Her Majesty The Queen—my beloved Mother—was an inspiration and example to me and to all my family, and we owe her the most heartfelt debt any family can owe to their mother; for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example," he said in his first official speech following her Sept. 8 passing. "That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today."

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Raised with the knowledge he would one day assume the throne—taking over the position his mother held from the time he was 3 years old—the 74-year-old added, "I have been brought up to cherish a sense of duty to others, and to hold in the greatest respect the precious traditions, freedoms and responsibilities of our unique history and our system of parliamentary government. As The Queen herself did with such unswerving devotion, I too now solemnly pledge myself, throughout the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the Constitutional principles at the heart of our nation."

And to keep calm and carry on the late matriarch's memory. 

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That started with the invitations he and his wife, Queen Camilla, sent out for their coronation, the formal investiture and official crowning coming nearly eight months after they assumed their duties. 

Among the designs featured in hand-painted watercolor nature motif was lily of the valley—a flower said to be one of the queen's favorites that was in her coronation bouquet back in 1953.

The floral tributes carried over IRL as well. Westminster Abbey's High Altar was dressed up using "boughs cut from flowering shrubs and trees from the five Royal Horticultural Society gardens across the British Isles," the palace said in a statement. The specially selected stems included branches from the Dawyck beech trees that Queen Elizabeth and her late husband Prince Philip planted at the Royal Horticultural Society's Wisley garden in 1978.

Not that it took all that much to plant the seed of the late matriarch's memory.

"People are going to be thinking about Queen Elizabeth because the last time the Royals gathered together in this kind of way was to say goodbye to Queen Elizabeth at her funeral Westminster Abbey," royal corresponded Sharon Carpenter noted to E! News ahead of the coronation, "so she's certainly going to be on people's minds." (The weather did its part as well, the rainy day quite reminiscent of when the queen took the throne nearly 70 years ago.) 

Plus, speculated the royal expert, "I'm sure we are going to see various other nods to the late queen in different ways."

Her majesty was certainly top of mind when the royals planned their wardrobe. 

Along with her showstopping Jess Collett x Alexander McQueen headpiece, Kate Middleton, now the Princess of Wales, donned the late monarch's three-strand, diamond-filled George VI Festoon Necklace.

As for the newly minted Queen Camilla, she arrived at Westminster Abbey in the crimson velvet Robe of State crafted for her mother-in-law's 1953 coronation. 

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And to reach Westminster Abbey, she and Charles hitched a ride in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach.

Led by six Windsor Grey horses, the gilded carriage was created to commemorate the 60th year of the queen's reign in 2012 and has only ever held the monarch, Philip and any accompanying head of state. (For the trip back to Buckingham Palace, they traveled in the gold leaf-covered Gold State Coach Elizabeth used for her coronation.)

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Then there was Charles' crown itself—the same nearly five-pound solid gold and ruby-, amethyst- and sapphire-encrusted topper that he watched his mother wear at her coronation—and St. Edward's chair, the oak-constructed throne that has been sat on by monarchs for more than 700 years. 

Noted Carpenter, "A lot of the royal regalia that's presented to the king, the last time we saw that was actually on top of Queen Elizabeth's casket."

Camilla, meanwhile, was given a refurbished version of the Queen Mary's Crown, made for Charles' great-grandmother for the 1911 coronation of her husband, King George V. Reused "in the interests of sustainability and efficiency," Buckingham Palace said in a statement, the piece was reset using the Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds that Elizabeth often enjoyed wearing as brooches. 

But as touching as each tribute felt, Carpenter noted they also shone a light on what has been lost. 

"I think this is going to be bittersweet for a lot of people," she said ahead of the ceremony, "because this is really going to be the realization for many that Queen Elizabeth is not coming back. This is a new reign now. This is a new monarch, this is a new king. And that royal regalia that was on her casket that's now being presented to the new king really signifies the end of the Queen's reign and the beginning of Charles' reign."