By Henry John Hudson (1862–1911) – http://www.artwarefineart.com/gallery/portrait-king-edward-vii-1841-1910, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
King Charles III has often been compared to his great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII. Both ascended the throne after their mother’s enjoyed record-breaking reigns, and at the time of each king’s ascension, they both held the record for longest-serving Prince of Wales.
Edward’s coronation in 1902 was not without some difficulties, though.
Although his mother’s coronation in 1838 was quickly thrown together and somewhat disorganised, King Edward VII’s coronation in 1902 was meticulously planned. Both he and his wife, Alexandra (born a Princess of Denmark), played a significant role in planning their coronation.
The coronation was set for 26 June 1902 at Westminster Abbey, but on 24 June, it was announced that the coronation would have to be postponed.
Buckingham Palace shared that the King was unwell due to an abscess and could not participate in the coronation. The release put out the day after the coronation was meant to take place explained, “The King is suffering from perityphlitis. The condition on Saturday was so satisfactory that it was hoped that, with care, His Majesty would be able to go through the Coronation ceremonies. On Monday evening, a recrudescence became manifest, rendering a surgical operation necessary today.“
On the 26th, many dignitaries in London for the planned coronation attended a service for the King at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The coronation was rescheduled for 9 August, and the King was well enough to attend and participate.
There were over 8,000 guests at Westminster Abbey to see Edward and Alexandra crowned. Several of the guests were from the British Empire; the Prime Ministers of the Dominions were in attendance, as well as royals from several Indian states.
In addition to Edward being in a somewhat precarious state, the Archbishop of Canterbury was also not well. At the time of the coronation, Archbishop Frederick Temple was 80, and he could barely read or stand throughout the ceremony. He refused to allow others to perform the service, though and had to be supported throughout.
Edward wore a military uniform instead of the traditional knee breeches and hose that kings wear for their coronations. Given that he was severely overweight and still recovering from his surgery, the change in attire would have allowed him to be more comfortable. He was also crowned with the lighter Imperial State Crown rather than St. Edward’s Crown.
The British Empire was also represented in the coronation procession. Initial plans for the procession included troops from various countries, including Denmark, Germany, Russia, and Austro-Hungary. However, with the rescheduling, the procession was completely made up of British and Empire troops.