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The Secret Meaning Behind King Charles III’s Coronation Emblem

Elisabeth Edwards
Photo Credit: Jacob King / PA Images / Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Jacob King / PA Images / Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images

King Charles III’s coronation took place May 6, 2023, and as the big day approached, new details about the historic celebration began to emerge. Seventy years since the last coronation – that of Queen Elizabeth II – King Charles set the tone for his reign, which many had already declared the start of a more “slimmed down” monarchy.

The coronation emblem highlights Charles’ love of nature

The official coronation emblem features a blue crown surrounded by a circle of red with floral motifs throughout. Four different species of flowers are featured on the emblem, each corresponding to a different country within the United Kingdom: Scotch thistles for Scotland, shamrocks for Ireland, daffodils for Wales, and Tudor roses for England. The blue crown entwined in the flowers is a depiction of St Edward’s Crown, which was made for King Charles II in 1661 and was used in subsequent coronations until 1689. The crown was brought back into the coronation tradition in 1911 by George V and continues to be used in contemporary coronations.

the Coronation Emblem hanging before the ceremony
A view of the King Charles III coronation emblem in the street ahead of the coronation ceremony for King Charles III of England at Westminster Cathedral on May 6th in London, United Kingdom on May 02, 2023. (Photo Credit: Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The emblem was created by British designer Sir Jony Ive KBE and his company LoveFrom. The Royal Family explained that the emblem “symbolizes and celebrates the historic beginning of the new Reign.” In Ive’s own words, the emblem “speaks to the happy optimism of spring and celebrates the beginning of this new Carolean era for the United Kingdom. The gentle modesty of these natural forms combine to define an emblem that acknowledges both the joyful and profound importance of this occasion.”

The Royal Family website also says the botanical design was “inspired by King Charles’ love of the planet, nature, and his deep concern for the natural world.” Charles has had an interest in environmentalism since the late 1960s, beginning when he wrote a letter to then Prime Minister Harold Wilson about the rapid decline of the salmon population in Scotland’s rivers. Since then, he has launched several campaigns and foundations that target the climate crisis and environmental conservation.

The King’s commitment to the environment

In the 1980s, the then-Prince of Wales began transforming the gardens of his family residence at Highgrove in Gloucestershire into an organic food paradise. Bird and wildlife populations flourish in the more naturalized environment, and produce from the garden was so bountiful that it became its own business, Duchy Organic, which sells organic goods at local markets in nearby Waitrose. All the proceeds go back into the King’s foundations and charities.

King Charles helps to plant a tree at his country estate Highgrove
The then Prince Charles helps plant a tree at his Highgrove home in 2008. (Photo Credit: Pool / Anwar Hussein Collection / WireImage / Getty Images)

In 2020, Charles launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative with a mission to “build a coordinated global effort to enable the private sector to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future.” The initiative encourages corporations to embrace sustainability by signing onto the “Terra Carta,” an agreement that, according to the former Prince of Wales, “offers the basis of a recovery plan that puts Nature, People, and Planet at the heart of global value creation – one that will harness the precious, irreplaceable power of Nature combined with the transformative innovation and resources of the private sector.”

The 40th coronation to take place in Westminster Abbey

King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla were crowned King and Queen of the United Kingdom on May 6, 2023 at Westminster Abbey. The coronation was the 40th in the Abbey’s history since William the Conqueror was crowned King in 1066. The rites and rituals of the coronation have been upheld for centuries and remain a vital practice that connects Kings and Queens across the centuries, but according to Buckingham Palace, Charles III’s coronation also reflected “the monarch’s role today and look towards the future.”

King Charles on the throne during his coronation
King Charles III after being crowned with the St Edward’s Crown by The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Reverend Justin Welby during his coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey on May 6, 2023 in London, England. (Photo Credit: Aaron Chown – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Charles III’s coronation was also shorter and smaller than Queen Elizabeth II’s ceremony in 1953. Queen Elizabeth’s procession alone contained 16,000 participants, but this time around the King and Queen Consort traveled to Westminster Abbey in the King’s procession and returned to Buckingham Palace as part of a much larger procession after the ceremony. This element also showcased other members of the Royal Family including the new Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate. Prince George also had a role, serving as a Page of Honor alongside Queen Camilla’s three grandsons.

Several new pieces of music commissioned for the occasion were performed at the ceremony, an homage to the King’s love of music. The music featured some Welsh lyrics as well as Greek-Orthodox influences, a nod to Charles’ late father Prince Philip.

Photograph of King George V and Queen Mary in their coronation garb.
King George V and Queen Mary after their coronation in 1911. Queen Mary wears the Queen Mary’s crown, which will be worn by Camilla at King Charles III’s coronation. (Photo Credit: Print Collector / Getty Images)

As for the crowning moment of the coronation – the crowns themselves – Charles III wore the St Edward’s Crown. When it came to Queen Camilla’s choice of headgear, critics were eager to find out if the controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond would make an appearance. The Koh-i-Noor is the largest cut diamond in the world and currently rests on the Queen Mother’s coronation crown. The allegedly cursed gem has been claimed by India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Camilla opted instead to wear Queen Mary’s crown, which was removed from safekeeping at the Tower of London to be resized ahead of the coronation.

More from us: Queen Elizabeth II: Her Historic Life in Photos

King Charles III certainly made history in his own way with his coronation ceremony and celebrations.

Elisabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards is a public historian and history content writer. After completing her Master’s in Public History at Western University in Ontario, Canada Elisabeth has shared her passion for history as a researcher, interpreter, and volunteer at local heritage organizations.

She also helps make history fun and accessible with her podcast The Digital Dust Podcast, which covers topics on everything from art history to grad school.

In her spare time, you can find her camping, hiking, and exploring new places. Elisabeth is especially thrilled to share a love of history with readers who enjoy learning something new every day!

The Digital Dust Podcast