On 30 September 1553 England’s first undisputed Queen regnant left the Tower of London to be crowned. She headed for the Palace of Westminster first in a procession through the city. Mary had given Elizabeth a prominent role in the proceedings. It would be an amazing event, to showcase the monarch’s magnificence and power, even if she was ‘only’ a woman.
On 1 October Mary sat in a chariot under a canopy covered with gold and pulled by horses trapped with gold. She wore a gown of purple velvet, furred with powdered ermines and on her head a caul of cloth of tinsel, beset with pearl and stone and a circlet of gold, set with precious stones. It apparently weighed so much that she had to hold her head up with her hands. Following the Queen were her half-sister Elizabeth and Anne of Cleves, Henry’s fourth wife and only surviving one.
No Queen regnant had ever been crowned in England, but Mary was determined to be crowned according to the custom. The ceremony was a blur between that of King and a Queen consort. Reportedly she wore her hair down, as done by Queen consorts. When she was finally sat on a great chair the bishop of Winchester exclaimed, ‘Sirs, here present is Mary, rightful and undoubted inheritrix by the laws of God and man to the crown and royal dignity of this realm of England, France and Ireland, whereupon you shall understand that this day is appointed by the peers of this land for the consecration, induction and coronation of said most excellent Princess Mary; will you serve at this time, and give your wills and assent to the same’. He was answered with ‘Yea, yea, yea. God save Queen Mary’. Mary made an offering to God and lay prostrate while prayers were being said. It was followed by a sermon. Then Mary swore her oath while lying before the altar and was then anointed by the bishop. The gold coronation ring was put on her finger, and she was crowned with the three crowns.
Mary walked out carrying the orb and the two sceptres as she was both King and Queen.