The Coronation Chair, known as St Edward’s Chair, or King Edward’s Chair is perhaps one of the most symbolic parts of a monarch’s coronation. While the 700-year-old chair is typically only used for the coronation service, there is one sovereign who used it for another special occasion – Queen Victoria.
Victoria was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 28 June 1838 at the age of 19. The ceremony took five hours and suffered from a lack of rehearsal. It is said no one except The Queen and Lord John Thynne (the Sub-Dean of Westminster who acted for the Dean) knew what needed to happen. The coronation ring was painfully forced on the wrong finger. Lord Rolle, an elderly peer, also had a mishap. He fell down the steps while making his homage to the queen. To make it all worse, a confused bishop mistakenly announced the ceremony was over which resulted in the queen having to come back to her seat, the Coronation Chair, to finish the service.
In June 1887, Victoria became only the second British monarch to mark a Golden Jubilee, as she reached the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne. Parts of the Jubilee celebrations, a Service of Thanksgiving was held at Westminster Abbey. To show the significance of the moment, Victoria processed into the Abbey and made her way to the Coronation Chair which she sat in for the whole service. She hated it. This would be the only time the chair was used by a Monarch outside of a Coronation.
During her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 to mark 60 years on the throne, she had another service of thanksgiving. By now, Victoria was in her 70s and suffering from mobility issues. Furthermore, she had no intention of going anywhere near the Coronation Chair again. In the end, her Diamond Jubilee was marked with a service on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral with the clergy and choir coming to the queen to celebrate her sixty years on the throne. Victoria stayed secure within her carriage.
All subsequent Jubilees have included a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral rather than Westminster Abbey, following the pattern of the Diamond celebrations of Victoria. And it means that the second longest reigning monarch in British history remains the only one to have used the Coronation Chair outside of the ceremony where they receive their crown.