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The revival of ceremony

Detail from 805164 showing the Coronation of Charles II in Westminster Abbey ©

On 29 May 1660, Charles II entered London in triumph. Almost immediately, the new king set about reinstating the traditional royal ceremonies that had been abandoned during the Commonwealth: the medieval custom of ‘touching for the king’s evil’; public dining; the rituals of the Chapel Royal and the Order of the Garter. These events, with their magnificent pageantry, were powerful representations of royal authority.

At the beginning of his reign Charles II also staged the most extravagant coronation since the accession of Elizabeth I. The royal regalia, which had been melted down by the Parliamentarians, was remade and the magnificent procession, ceremony and banquet were performed in accordance with ancient tradition. Describing the splendours of the coronation in his diary, Samuel Pepys could only conclude that ‘I may now shut my eyes against any other objects, or for the future trouble myself to see things of state and shewe, as being sure never to see the like again in this world’.