Royal Navy, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons
There has been a lot of speculation about the headwear the Royal Family will or won’t wear at King Charles III’s coronation.
The Prince of Wales is no exception to this curiosity as he has a few options to choose from for his coronet.
A coronet is differs from a crown in its simplicity and smaller size. The design of coronets vary upon rank. During the coronation, coronets will be carried in by pages and are worn up the moment of the King’s crowning.
There are three coronets for Prince William to choose from. All of the variations of the heir apparent’s coronet are designed based on a 1677 royal warrant from Charles II which says: “the Son & Heir apparent of the Crown for the time being shall use & bear his coronett composed of crosses & flowers de Lizs with one Arch & in the midst a Ball & Cross.” The single arch represents inferiority to the monarch while also showing that the prince outranks other royal children, whose coronets have no arches.
It is possible William will use his father’s Prince of Wales coronet. King Charles III had this specifically designed for him when he was formally invested as the Prince of Wales. This 24-carat gold and platinum coronet has four Crosses Patées and the four fleur-de-Lys made from Welsh gold. Diamonds and emeralds adorn the coronet. It also has a purple velvet cap and ermine trim. On top on the arch is an orb and cross with the Prince of Wales insignia. Because it was made for then Prince Charles, it has his zodiac sign, Scorpion, in diamonds. If this is the coronet Prince William chooses, he could have it modified to display his star sign, Cancer.
The reason Prince Charles needed a new coronet for his 1969 Prince of Wales investiture is because his uncle, Edward VIII abdicated the throne and went into exile in 1936, he took the Coronet of George, Prince of Wales. Edward VIII wore this coronet at his father’s, King George V’s coronation in 1911. In 1969 a court ruled that is was impractical to charge the former king with theft since the coronet would be returned the Crown upon his death, which happened in 1972.
The Coronet of George, Prince of Wales is silver gilt, with a raised single arch. An orb and cross sit atop the arch. It has fleur-de-lis and crosses, a red velvet cap and ermine trim. It was created in 1902 for King George V when he was to become Prince of Wales during his father’s, Edward VII’s reign.
Before 1902, the Prince of Wales used a coronet that was made for Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1728. George IV and Edward VII also used this coronet. A deep red velvet cap is surrounded by gold fleur-de-lis and crosses, with a depressed arch and an orb and cross on top. It also has an ermine trim. This crown was considered too fragile for King George V in 1902, so it is doubtful Prince William will choose this coronet to wear.
Interestingly, Frederick, Prince of Wales never wore his coronet. Instead it was placed on cushion in front of him. It is thought Prince William may go this route as well, depending on the level of formality that King Charles III decides to have for his coronation.