The vast majority of the treasures on display at the Tower today were made for coronations. Indeed, many were used most recently at the coronation of the present queen, HM Elizabeth II, in 1953. The coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey represents the transfer of authority to the new king or queen.
After taking a solemn oath, the monarch is stripped to a plain linen undergarment (the Colobium Sindonis). The Archbishop pours an aromatic holy oil from the Ampulla, 1661, (a bottle shaped like an eagle) onto the Coronation Spoon (12th century) and anoints the monarch on the hands, breast and head as a form of blessing.
The anointing is the most sacred part of the service. After this, the monarch is presented with the regalia - a series of items of clothing and objects which represent different aspects of royal authority and the qualities expected of a ruler. The cloth of gold Imperial Mantle, 1821, echoes the clothing worn by Byzantine emperors, while the Armills are bracelets of sincerity and wisdom and the spurs (1661) represent military leadership.
The climax of the ceremony, the Crowning, comes once the monarch has received all the regalia, including the Orb, Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, and Rod of Equity and Justice (all 1660-61). At the moment the crown is placed on the monarch’s head, a signal is given for a gun salute at the Tower.
If a king is married at the time of his coronation, then usually his wife is anointed and crowned as Queen Consort. As well as queen’s crowns, visitors can see the altar plate displayed during the Coronation ceremony, and the banqueting plate used after the service.