by Susan Flantzer
© Unofficial Royalty 2023
Currently, twenty-six nations are monarchies. Unofficial Royalty has information about all of them at Unofficial Royalty: Current Monarchies Index.
The United Kingdom is the only one of the ten European monarchies that still has a coronation. The other monarchies still crowning their monarchs are Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Thailand, and Tonga. The monarchies without coronations have simpler inaugurations, investitures, swearings-in, benedictions, or no ceremonies at all.
Monarchies That Have Coronations
Note: The link on each monarchy leads to Unofficial Royalty’s index of articles about that monarchy.
Kingdom of Bhutan
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan wearing the Raven Crown at his coronation in 2008
Kings of Bhutan are crowned in a Buddhist ceremony that involves the offering of ritual prayers by the new king, the royal family, and other important people. The king is crowned with the Raven Crown, representing Legoen Jarog Dongchen, the raven-faced protector god of Bhutan. The coronation takes place in the Chamber of the Golden Throne in the Tashichho Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The date for the coronation is selected by court astrologers.
Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace
Coronation of Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei, 1968
The Sultan of Brunei is crowned in The Lapau, also known as the Royal Ceremonial Hall, in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei. The Sultan is crowned with a golden crown and given The Dragon Dagger, symbolizing his royal authority. Senior members of the royal family and senior titled nobles then remove their swords from their scabbards and brandish them to show loyalty and fidelity to the new Sultan. The coronation is traditionally held one year after the Sultan’s accession.
Kingdom of Cambodia
King Norodom Sihamoni sits on the throne beside the crown and regalia during his coronation, 2004
Following a day of ceremonies at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, the King of Cambodia is crowned. He is carried into the Throne Hall of the Royal Palace on a gold chair, at the head of a large procession. Buddhist monks, one for every year of the king’s life plus one, chant blessings. The king prays before statues of his ancestors inside the Throne Hall. While priests blow on conch shells outside, the king takes a formal oath to observe the constitution and to rule in the country’s best interests. The king receives items of the royal regalia, including a calico cat, golden slippers, and the jewel-encrusted gold crown and sword. In 2004, King Norodom Sihamoni chose not to wear the crown during his coronation.
Kingdom of Eswatini
King Mswati III, wearing a crown of red and white feathers and a leopard-skin loincloth, after his coronation, 1986
Little is known about the coronation of the King of Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, as the ceremonies are secret. After the various secret ceremonies, the new king takes part in several ritual dances in full feathered regalia in public. Tribal singers repeat the king’s official titles, which include “The Bull”, “Guardian of the Sacred Shields”, “The Inexplicable” and “The Great Mountain”.
Kingdom of Lesotho
Two Basotho chieftains crown King Letsie III, 1997
The Kingdom of Lesotho originated with the Basotho, a Bantu nation native to southern Africa. Previously the British Crown colony of Basutoland, it was given its independence by the United Kingdom in 1966 and became the Kingdom of Lesotho. The last coronation was that of King Letsie III in 1997 at the Maseru Sports Stadium in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. King Letsie III entered the stadium escorted by units of mounted police in red uniforms who were carrying sabers and lances. The king wore a traditional coat of animal skins and was crowned by two Basotho chieftains with a beaded headband containing a brown and white feather. Traditional dances and songs followed.
Kingdom of Thailand
King Maha Vajiralongkorn during his coronation ceremony, 2019
Thailand holds an elaborate coronation for its king which includes ancient Buddhist and Brahmanic rites at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. The king, wearing the white robes of a Brahmin monk, has sacred water poured over his shoulders while a “gong of victory” is struck by the court astrologer. The king is then anointed with sacred water from eighteen different sites in Thailand by a senior Brahmin, representatives of the government, and members of the royal family. The king is presented with the nine-tiered umbrella (which can be seen on the right in the photo above), a symbol of his authority, and five royal regalia items: the Great Crown of Victory, the Sword of Victory, the Royal Staff, the Whisk of the Tail Hairs of a White Elephant, a Small Flat Fan, and a pair of Golden Slippers. Following Thai tradition, the king places the crown upon his own head and then receives the golden Ring of Kingship. Next, the king sits on the Bhatarabit Throne and pronounces the Oath of Accession, promising that he will reign for the benefit and happiness of his people.
Kingdom of Tonga
King Tupou VI is crowned during the coronation ceremony, 2015
Tonga has long been a monarchy and by the 12th century, Tonga and its Paramount Chiefs had a strong reputation throughout the central Pacific Ocean. Tonga became a kingdom in 1845. Eventually, after Tonga converted to Christianity, a European-style coronation ceremony was introduced. However, a centuries-old traditional Tongan rite involving the ritual drinking of kava, a beverage made from the piper methysticum plant, a popular South Pacific drink that is used in ceremonies for relaxation, and the monarch receiving dozens of cooked pigs and baskets of food, has continued. The Tongan coronation was influenced by the British coronation. The ceremony is elaborate, complete with anointing with sacred chrism and regalia: a large gold crown, a scepter, and a throne. Interestingly, one of the Coronation Anthems, George Friedrich Handel composed for the coronation of King George II of Great Britain, the rousing Zadok the Priest which has been played at every British coronation ever since, was performed at King George Tupou V’s 2008 coronation by the Royal Maopa Choir in the Tongan language. The video below shows the performance and has some views of the king and the church.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Since 1066, the coronations of the English and British monarchs have taken place in Westminster Abbey in London, England with one exception. In 1216, King Henry III was crowned in Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucester, England. The main elements of the British coronation service and the form of the oath taken by the sovereign can be traced to the order of service devised by Saint Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury for the coronation of Edgar the Peaceable, King of the English in 973. Although there have been revisions in the order of the ceremony, the sequence of taking an oath, anointing, investing of regalia, crowning, and enthronement found in the original Anglo-Saxon text has remained constant.
Check out all our British coronation articles at the link below.
Practices of Other Monarchies
Kingdom of Bahrain
Upon the death of the previous Emir of Bahrain, the Bahraini Cabinet holds a special session where they mourn the deceased Emir and name his successor. In 2002, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Emir of Bahrain elevated the Emirate to a Kingdom and proclaimed himself the first King of Bahrain.
Kingdom of Belgium
Philippe, King of the Belgians takes his oath before the Belgian parliament, 2013
Following the Belgian Revolution of 1830 – 1831, an independent Kingdom of Belgium was created from part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Belgium has no crown or regalia and no Belgian monarch has ever been crowned. The Belgian monarch’s formal installation requires only a solemn oath to “abide by the Constitution and the laws of the Belgian people, maintain the country’s independence and preserve its territory” before members of the two chambers of parliament.
Kingdom of Denmark
Queen Margrethe II, her husband Prince Henrik, and their two young sons wave to crowds from a balcony at Christiansborg Palace after the proclamation of her succession to the throne, 1972
Denmark formerly had a coronation but in 1660, the coronation was replaced with a ceremony of anointing. The new monarch would arrive at the coronation site already wearing the crown and was then anointed. The ceremony of anointing was abolished with the introduction of the Danish Constitution in 1849, and a simple proclamation has been used since then. Denmark does have regalia but it plays no role in the ceremonies for a new monarch. Now, a public announcement of a new monarch’s accession is made from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the Danish Parliament, in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. The new king or queen is acclaimed by the Prime Minister, followed by a ninefold “hurrah” by the crowds below.
State of Japan
There are elaborate accession and enthronement ceremonies for an Emperor of Japan. Unofficial Royalty has a detailed article with photos at Unofficial Royalty: Ceremonies: Abdication of Emperor Akihito and Accession and Enthronement of Emperor Naruhito.
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Queen Rania and King Abdullah II at the investiture ceremony, 1999
Several hours after the announcement of the death of the previous King of Jordan, the former Crown Prince, now the new King of Jordan, swears an oath to uphold the constitution and to be faithful to the nation. At a later date, an investiture ceremony takes place, followed by a reception at Raghadan Palace in Amman, the capital city of Jordan.
State of Kuwait
Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, 16th Ruler and 6th Emir of Kuwait, takes the constitutional oath as Emir of Kuwait, 2020
Upon the death of the previous Emir of Kuwait, a successor is named by the Kuwaiti Council of Ministers. Several days later, at a special session of the National Assembly, the new Emir of Kuwait takes constitutional oath as Emir of Kuwait.
Principality of Liechtenstein
The Hereditary Prince becomes the new Prince of Liechtenstein when the previous Prince dies. Within thirty days, the new Prince needs to give his oath of allegiance in the presence of parliament and then receive the homage of parliament. The sovereign Princes of Liechtenstein have never had a coronation or enthronement ceremony. Liechtenstein had a ducal hat commissioned in 1623 by Prince Karl I of Liechtenstein but it was discovered to be missing in 1781. In 1976, the people of Liechtenstein presented a replica of the ducal hat to Prince Franz Josef II on his 70th birthday. However, the ducal hat is not considered regalia and plays no role when the new Prince gives his oath of allegiance.
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
The Grand Dukes and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg have never had a coronation and there is no crown or regalia. The new Grand Duke or Grand Duchess is enthroned in a simple ceremony held in Luxembourg’s parliament and takes an oath of loyalty to the constitution as required by the constitution. Afterward, the Grand Duke or Grand Duchess attends a solemn mass at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg City.
Principality of Monaco
Prince Albert II’s enthronement ceremony, 2005
The Principality of Monaco has no crown or regalia. After the end of the three-month mourning period for the previous Prince or Princess of Monaco, a Mass and an investiture ceremony are held at the Cathedral of Monaco (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception) in Monaco-Ville, Monaco presided over by the Archbishop of Monaco. This is followed by a garden party for the people of Monaco. In the courtyard of the Prince’s Palace, the Prince or Princess of Monaco is presented with two keys of the city as a symbol of his/her investiture. A few months later, there is an enthronement ceremony at the Cathedral of Monaco.
Kingdom of Morocco
King Mohammad VI gives his enthronement speech, 1999
The enthronement of the King of Morocco generally takes place a few days after the death of the previous King of Morocco. The date of the enthronement is celebrated throughout the King’s reign as Throne Day, a national holiday commemorating the day of the King’s accession to the throne.
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Netherlands has never crowned its monarchs but rather, has a swearing-in and investiture ceremony. The Dutch constitution states that the monarch is to be sworn in and inaugurated in Amsterdam at a public joint session of the two houses of the States General. This ceremony is held at the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in Amsterdam. The regalia (crown, orb, and, scepter) are present on cushions on a table and surround a copy of the Dutch constitution but the monarch never touches them. Two other regalia, the sword of state and the standard of the kingdom bearing the coat of arms of the Netherlands are carried by two senior military officers. During the ceremony, the monarch, wearing a ceremonial robe, is seated on a chair of state with his or her consort opposite members of the States General. The monarch takes a formal oath to uphold the kingdom’s fundamental law and protect the country with everything within his/her power. Next, the monarch is invested by the States General and the States of the other countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Members of the States General pay homage to the monarch. The president of the Joint Session of the States General first makes a solemn declaration while all members of the States General and members of the States of Aruba, Curaçao, and St Maarten then, in turn, swear or affirm this declaration.
Kingdom of Norway
The coronation of King Haakon VII and Queen Maud in 1906 was the last coronation in Norway. In 1908, the constitutional provision requiring the coronation was repealed. Since then, the monarch has only been required to take a formal accession oath in the Council of State and then in the Storting, the Norwegian parliament. King Olav V, desiring a religious ceremony to mark his accession to the throne in 1957, instituted a ceremony of royal consecration. This rite took place again in 1991 when King Harald V and Queen Sonja were similarly consecrated. Both consecrations were held where the coronation rite had formerly taken place, Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway.
Sultanate of Oman
Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, speaks during his swearing-in ceremony, 2020
In Oman, the succession to the throne is handled in a somewhat unusual way. Upon the death of the Sultan, the royal family council is charged with naming his successor within three days. Should they be unable to agree upon their choice, there is a sealed envelope from the late Sultan naming his personal choice to succeed him. On the same day, the new Sultan of Oman is sworn in during an emergency session of the Council of Oman at the Al-Bustan Palace in Muscat, Oman.
State of Qatar
Qatar does not have a history of a peaceful transition of power. On June 25, 2013, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, revealed his own peaceful plan to step down as the Emir of Qatar in a meeting with his close relatives and aides. His son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani then became the Emir of Qatar after his father handed over power in a televised speech. He was the first ruler, in a succession of three Qatari rulers from the Al Thani family, to ascend to power without resorting to a coup d’etat.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
When the King of Saudi Arabia dies the Crown Prince becomes the next King of Saudi Arabia without ceremonies or fanfare. The Bayʿah, an oath of allegiance to a leader, is taken by the Princes of Saudi Arabia and the Ulama, the religious leaders.
Kingdom of Spain
No Spanish monarch has had a coronation since the fifteenth century. Instead, the new monarch appears at the Cortes Generales, the Spanish parliament, where he or she takes a formal oath to uphold the Constitution. Although the crown is visibly present at the ceremony, it is never actually placed on the monarch’s head.
Kingdom of Sweden
The enthronement of King Carl XVI Gustaf, 1973
No Swedish monarch has been crowned since King Oscar II in 1873. The monarchs after him have chosen not to be crowned. In 1973, King Carl XVI Gustaf swore the then-required royal declaration before the Council of State in the Council Chamber at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. He was then enthroned in a simple ceremony in the Throne Room at the Royal Palace in Stockholm and made an accession speech. The regalia were displayed on cushions to the right and left of the royal Silver Throne but were never held by the king. Current legislation no longer mandates the royal declaration. There is nothing stipulated about the Swedish monarch’s accession other than a statement that future monarchs can issue a declaration of office before the Riksdag, the Swedish legislature. No law or constitutional provision prevents a coronation, enthronement, or royal declaration.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is an elective monarchy formed from a federation of seven emirates, Abu Dhabi (the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain. Each emirate is governed by an emir and together the seven emirs form the Federal Supreme Council. The members of the Federal Supreme Council elect a president and vice president from among their members. In practice, the Emir of Abu Dhabi serves as president while the Emir of Dubai is vice president and also prime minister. Each of the seven emirates is a hereditary monarchy.
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