Princess Diana’s eldest brother, who was also one of Queen Elizabeth II’s godchildren, returned to the topic of coronations on a recent episode of his much-loved podcast, Rabbit Hole Detectives.
On the show, he spoke about a long-held tradition – and prompted one of his co-hosts to share details of an unexpected royal-related prank!
Talking to his fellow hosts, Dr Cat Jarman and Richard Coles, the historian and author focused on the history of Coronation spoons, sharing that one of the first recorded mentions of such an item was by Edward I.
The father-of-seven went on: “They’ve been part of the ceremonial part of the crowning of Kings and Queens of England since about that period… it’s been used really ever since.”
Richard then jumped in to share that his most recent April Fool’s joke related to King Charles’ coronation and spoons. He said: “I did an April Fool this year and I published on Facebook that I had been appointed ‘Custos Cohcleari’ for the coronation of King Charles.
“And [I said] this was a historic role in which a bachelor clergyman of over 60 years of age was responsible for looking after the anointing spoon for the coronation, which had to be kept in a tangerine silk harness around his breast to keep it at room temperature… Nearly everyone believed it, including a quite significant constitutional expert who DM-ed me to congratulate me on the post.”
“I love that Richard,” Charles Spencer laughed. While he didn’t attend his former brother-in-law’s coronation ceremony, he has previously talked about coronation challenges on the podcast. Speaking on Rabbit Hole Detectives, he shared some fascinating facts, including details of why Queen Victoria’s coronation proved to be a “catastrophe”.
As Charles explained, on the day she was crowned in 1838, “there wasn’t really a rehearsal, the Queen was woken up at four that morning by them practicing cannon fire in the park outside [and then] 400,000 people turned up in London because the train had just opened up the capital to people.
“She was stuck in a traffic jam for 45 minutes; the service went on for five hours and she needed to retreat to a chapel but everyone forgot that the chapel was being used for wine and sandwiches… The whole thing was an absolute disaster… All in all, a complete catastrophe”.
However, he noted: “People loved it, it was a four-day party.” Charles also shared what he’d learned about the “botched” coronations of two other royals, William the Conqueror and George IV.
He said: “William the Conqueror sets the tone for botched coronations quite firmly… He brought in a sort of ecumenical service in French and English but a lot was lost in translation… the [priests] hadn’t really run through it”.
Even worse, when his supporters shouted their appreciation for the King, the Normans mistook this for an assassination attempt and “set fire to London” so Westminster Abbey had to be evacuated.