You may not have a seat at Westminster Abbey for Charles III’s big day in May, but you can now own a chair from another notable coronation.
M.S. Rau has just listed three historic pieces that appeared at Queen Elizabeth II’s and King George VI’s respective crownings. According to the high-end antique dealer, it was customary during the 20th century to give guests an opportunity to buy their customized chair after sitting in it as a way to recoup costs. Dukes were gifted their bespoke pieces, of course.
Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, which took place on June 2, 1953, saw some 8,000 guests file into the Abbey. The Ministry of Works was responsible for commissioning all furnishings for the ceremony. The 2,000 chairs and 5,700 stools took design cues from the furniture created for King George VI’s coronation and required 4,000 yards of velvet to complete. The cost of the ceremony itself was over $1.8 million (£1.5 million), and the purchase price of a stool was about $5 (£4, 7 shillings and sixpence).
The two regal chairs in question (priced at $39,850) sat James Ian Keith, the 12th Earl of Kintore, and his spouse, Delia Virginia Loyd. The Scottish Keith clan has a long history of service to the crown. The chairs feature the original upholstery and are embroidered with “E II R,” meaning “Elizabeth the Second Regina.” The underside is inscribed with the year of the coronation, while the label shows the row the Earl and his spouse were seated in. The crown symbol appears in multiple places, naturally.
The other beautiful stool (priced at $8,450) commemorates the coronation of King George VI that took place in 1937. Upholstered in green velvet with gold and cream trim, the stool would have been used by guests during the festivities.
Although it is quite a simple piece, it was part of one of the most important events in the history of the modern monarchy. Following Edward VIII’s controversial abdication, George’s coronation signaled the beginning of a new era for the throne.
So, too, will Charles III’s upcoming coronation. Experts say the ceremony will be a significantly more subdued occasion than his mother’s. No velvet seats, then?