Guest Post – Finery (Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I)

At one time, there was a Queen-in-Training whose journey to Queenhood was far more treacherous than that of our current crop of princesses. Thanks to our guest author, geogirl, for this post describing the day Elizabeth I began her reign. This is the third of three parts, “On This Day”, “The Events of the Day”, and “Finery”.

None of Queen Elizabeth I’s coronation finery survives (except her gloves), but the painting in the previous post and reproduction below give an idea of the sumptuous nature of her apparel. The most controversial element of the ceremony was the Coronation Mass and it is uncertain if Elizabeth actually participated in this part of the service.  She herself told the French ambassador in 1571 that ‘she had been crowned and anointed according to the ceremonies of the Catholic church, and by Catholic bishops without, however, attending mass’.

It is thought that Elizabeth wore Anne Boleyn’s crown (based on the below sketch).

Coronation of Anne Boleyn

Just before she was crowned, the bishop put the coronation ring on the fourth finger of her right hand and “symbolically wedded her to her people.”  This single piece of jewelry embodied her entire relationship with her kingdom. It represented her dedication to her people and her people’s loyalty to her. In looking at the coronation picture, it is clear she has a ring on the fourth finger of her left hand but none on her right.   She wore it until her death in 1603 when it was removed and sent to James l/James Vl who succeedd her.  The ring pictured on the left is part of HM Elizabeth ll’s collection and is the Stuart succession ring dating back to 1660 or earlier.  This ring is ruby, diamonds, gold and silver. The ring on the right is the more recent coronation ring, and belongs to Queen Elizabeth II.

·      She also wore gauntlet gloves  which were hand-sewn from white alum-tawed suede leather, with a cuff decorated with silver thread, pearls and sequins. It also features silk satin inserts in a stylised design showing an orb, flowers and leaves   These royal artefacts belong to Dents, a firm which has been manufacturing handmade gloves since 1777 and were exhibited at Selfridges in May 4 2012.

When she entered, her train was borne by her cousin on the Tudor side, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, to whose issue the crown was to descend, for she was mother of Darnley, grandmother of James I, who inherited from Elizabeth 1.   When  they passed into Westminster Abbey, people scrabbled for the blue cloth they had walked on, as soon as the Queen had gone by – the custom, apparently, at coronations.

Interesting information on Elizabeth’s jewelry, symbolism, color, storage and reuse in here:  Dressed to the Nines: Queen Elizabeth I and the Power of Her Clothing