1st June 1533 – Anne Boleyn’s Coronation

From 7am, lords, ladies, aldermen of London and others had been gathering in Westminster Hall, awaiting Anne’s arrival. She rode from Whitehall Palace to Westminster in the royal barge and, once she was at the Palace of Westminster, Anne alighted via the queen’s stairs. She then must have slipped through the queen’s apartments to reach Westminster Hall through its southern entrance.

Anne walked to Westminster abbey beneath the same gold canopy that had been carried over her the day before, John Stokesly and Steven Gardiner on either side of their queen, taking the traditional position of bishops of London and Winchester. In front of Anne, Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset, carried the sceptre of gold, while the Earl of Arundel held the sceptre of ivory topped with a dove symbolising the Holy Spirit. Immediately in front of Anne was Charles Brandon, carrying the crown of St Edward. A train of Anne’s ladies dressed in scarlet velvet gowns, some furred with ermine, followed on behind. The Dowager Duchess of Norfolk held the long train of Anne’s purple velvet surcoat; Lord Burgh, the queen’s chamberlain, supported the train in the middle.

The abbey was packed and would have been ablaze with colour and filled with the sound of its choir.Directly before the altar a scaffold would have been erected and was covered in expensive arras. At its centre stood the 500-year-old coronation chair of King Edward the Confessor. Upon this chair, Anne would be crowned.

Somewhere above the eyeline, in the gallery overlooking the sacrarium, the king sat behind a grill alongside the French and Venetian ambassadors.

Anne would have been presented to the north, south, east and west as their new and rightful queen, before taking the coronation oath. She then was anointed beneath a canopy, with the Archbishop of Canterbury using a golden ampulla and spoon for the purpose before setting ‘the crown upon her head’. A Te Deum followed and, after that was sung, a solemn Mass. Cranmer describes Anne sitting ‘crowned upon a scaffold which was made between the High Altar and the quire in Westminster Church’.

Unusually, Anne was to be crowned with the crown of St Edward the Confessor. This crown is usually reserved only for the reigning monarch.

Afterwards, Anne would have received pledges of fidelity from both clergy and noblemen, Thomas Cranmer declaring on behalf of all the clergy to be faithful and true according to the law, then according to rank nobles would have done the same, sinking down before her on one knee to declare before all that in God’s name they were Anne’s ‘liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship, faith and truth; that they would bear unto themselves, to live and die against all manner of folks’ should anyone challenge Anne’s right to be queen.

Finally, Anne would have passed behind the high altar to pray at the shrine of St Edward the Confessor. At nearly six months pregnant, she must have been full of emotion and joy but also a certain degree of discomfort.

With the service complete, Anne processed back towards Westminster Hall, still ‘going under the canopy, crowned, with two sceptres in her hands’. Her father led Anne on one side and the Lord Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury’s son and heir, on the other. She was then to preside over a banquet, which according to the chronicler Edward Hall was ‘the most honourable feast that has been seen’. The king did not join his wife at the banquet, but, instead, watched again with the ambassadors of France and Venice.


Primary Sources:

‘The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of Quene Anne, wyfe unto the most noble kynge Henry VIII’ by Wynkyn de Worde

Secondary Sources:

‘In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn’ by Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger

‘The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn’ by Eric Ives


My two favourite Anne Boleyns (Genevieve Bujold in Anne of the Thousand Days and Natalie Dormer in The Tudors) becoming queen.

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