King Henry VIII of England had moved heaven and earth to be able to marry his second wife, Anne Boleyn. When he finally did, it was a rather private wedding. When Anne turned out to be pregnant, he arranged for a magnificent coronation for her. It was important to him that his son was born to a mother who was consecrated as Queen.1
Anne travelled to the Tower of London on the first day of the coronation festivities on a barge that had once belonged to her predecessor, Catherine of Aragon. The festivities were planned to take place over five days. When Anne travelled to the Tower of London, it was 29 May 1533, and she landed at Tower wharf to the sounds of a gun salute. Henry came out to greet her “with a noble loving countenance.”2
They then retired to the royal apartments in the Tower so that Anne could rest. Anne spent the following day quietly at the Tower while Henry created 19 knights of Bath. Then, on 31 May, Anne set out for Westminster in a grand procession. She sat in a litter with a rich canopy held over her, and she was dressed in her finest clothes. Once more, she received a gun salute. Her route was planned out meticulously, and at Fenchurch Street, she stopped to watch a pageant given by children before travelling to Gracechurch, where she viewed another pageant on Apollo and the nine muses. After several more festivities, she finally arrived at York Place, where she would spend the night.
On 1 June, Anne was crowned at Westminster Abbey by Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. He later wrote his own account of the occasion and wrote that Anne was “Apparelled in a robe of purple velvet, and all the ladies and gentlemen in robes and gowns of scarlet, according to the manner used before time in such business; and so her grace sustained of each side with two bishops; the bishop of London and the bishop of Winchester, came forth in the procession unto the church in Westminster, she in her hair, my lord of Suffolk bearing also before her a sceptre and a white rod, and so entered up unto the high altar, where divers ceremonies used about her, I did set the crown on her head, and then was sung Te Deum & c. And after that was sung a solemn mass: all which while her grace sat crowned upon a scaffold, which was made between the high altar and the choir in Westminster church; which mass and ceremonies done and finished, all the assembly of noblemen brought her into Westminster Hall again, where was kept a solemn feast all that day.”3
Anne had to lay prostrate at the beginning of the service, a difficult task for someone who was six months pregnant. When she arose, the Archbishop anointed her on her head and her breast and crowned her with the St. Edward’s Crown, which was usually reserved for the coronation of the monarch.4
The following day, Anne attended jousts in honour of her coronation and then also attended a second feast. Her triumph was complete; all she needed to do now was give birth to a son.