The cheap and cheerful coronation of King William IV – Royal Central

By Martin Archer Shee – Royal Collection object 404385, Public Domain,

King William IV and Queen Adelaide’s coronation in 1831 was a strong departure from British coronations in the past. As the oldest person to take the throne until King Charles III ascended in 2022, William’s approach to his coronation was to keep the event as budget-friendly as possible.

William’s elder brother reigned as King George IV from 1820 to 1830 after acting as Regent multiple times throughout their father, George III’s reign.

George IV’s 1821 coronation was the most expensive British coronation; he spent £240,000, which would be over £22,000,000 in 2023. He was known for his costly and luxurious tastes as Prince of Wales, which continued as monarch. 

Both William and the government refused to spend the same exorbitant amounts on the 1831 coronation as was spent in 182 and only spent £30,000. And this was very well-received by the public. 

William was known to dislike highly formal and ceremonial events. He would be known as the Sailor King for his long and dedicated career in the Royal Navy and preferred a simpler lifestyle after spending much of his adult life in the military. 

The King and Queen did undertake a procession to and from Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach, and they used a shortened version of the traditional coronation service.

The crowds were in good humour and were happy to see their new monarch before and after his coronation. It was remarked that William acted strangely throughout the entire service due to his dislike of ceremony, and this only further endeared him to the public. 

One of the significant changes that William made to the coronation as a whole was to eliminate the coronation banquet. Historically, the coronation banquet was a lavish event that lasted several hours (sometimes even days) and was held in Westminster Hall. The meal was several courses, was served on the finest service available, included rare and expensive food, and was used as a display of the new monarch’s wealth and generosity.

The coronation banquet has not been held at any coronation since. 

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