The Coronation of George III

King George III in 1762, by Allan Ramsay

On Tuesday, September 22, 1761, George III was formally crowned King of Great Britain and Ireland at Westminster Abbey. Only 23 years old, George had ascended to the throne a year earlier, when his grandfather, King George II, died in October 1760. After an appropriate mourning period for his grandfather, George III and his new wife Charlotte (they were married just two weeks before the ceremony, without any prior meetings) were crowned in a joyous celebration in London.

The coronation ceremony followed a precise program, honed by the British monarchy over several centuries. Spectators from all levels of society packed into London, crowding the streets and overflowing inns and rented rooms and houses. Before 9:00 in the morning on September 22, King George and Queen Charlotte were carried to Westminster in sedan chairs. Meanwhile, peers, members of the nobility, government figures, members of the royal household, and other invited and ticketed guests took their place inside the abbey, forming a grand procession which lasted several hours. The King and Queen finally entered the hall after 1:30, and proceeded to a grand platform specially built for the coronation. Under the guidance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the King pledged to faithfully rule his country, was anointed with holy oils, took communion, and was presented with several ceremonial objects and garments. After the King’s ceremony concluded, Charlotte was crowned Queen Consort in a shorter, simpler ceremony. The whole process took over six hours, prompting many of the spectators inside the hall to break out snacks and drinks during the Archbishop’s sermon. Following the joint coronation, a great feast and celebration took place. During the meal, the King’s Champion rode into the hall in a full suit of armor, challenging anyone who might question George’s legitimacy to immediate combat, throwing down his armored gauntlet for any challenger to take up. The new King and Queen were then proclaimed by heralds in Latin, French, and English. Once the meal concluded, around 10:00 in the evening, the King and Queen departed, followed by many of the invited guests. The banqueting hall and remaining food were then opened to the public, who had been waiting outside. King George reigned for the next 59 years, albeit with some interruptions due to his deteriorating health, until his death in 1820.

Join us at Colonial Michilimackinac on September 22 to celebrate the anniversary of King George III’s coronation. Interpreters will fire special artillery salutes and lead visitors in a series of patriotic toasts and songs, recreating the celebrations that accompanied the King’s coronation over 250 years ago. For a detailed description of the original 1761 coronation, this book, published after George’s death in 1820, provides a comprehensive look at the day’s activities, as well as the ceremonies before and after the coronation itself.

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