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Why King Charles won't remove his Prince of Wales signet ring after coronation

The monarch, who was crowned alongside Queen Camilla on Saturday May 6, has worn the gold ring since the 1970s

King Charles stepped out for an engagement following the coronation, still wearing his signet ring
Fiona Ward
Acting Fashion and Beauty Editor
May 10, 2023
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King Charles played the starring role in the historic royal coronation on Saturday May 6, and there was one accessory he was sure not to leave Buckingham Palace without: his trusty signet ring.

The monarch may have carried a bejewelled orb and sceptre, and worn the glittering St Edward’s Crown upon his head – but his most beloved piece of jewellery is surely his Welsh gold signet, worn on his left pinky finger.

In fact, there was some speculation whether the King would continue to wear the ring, since it bears the insignia of his former Prince of Wales title – which is now the title of his eldest son, Prince William.

The King proudly wore his signet ring during his historic coronation ceremony© Getty Images
The King proudly wore his signet ring during his historic coronation ceremony

Charles' ring bears the official symbol of the Prince of Wales, and it is believed to have been passed on to him by his uncle Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor – who was himself Prince of Wales before he ascended the throne (and later abdicated).

It is the only ring that King Charles always wears – he is even known to nestle his wedding ring beneath it, instead of on his traditional wedding finger. He did this with his marital band from Princess Diana right up until 2005, removing it after he announced his engagement to Queen Camilla. 

King Charles now wears his wedding band from Camilla proudly in the very same place – though sometimes, and even during his coronation ceremony, he wears the signet ring alone.

Charles wore his beloved signet ring on his wedding day© Getty Images
Charles wore his beloved signet ring during his civil wedding ceremony

Jewellery historian Helen Dimmick tells HELLO! about the history behind the special ring.

"Since the mid 1970s King Charles III has been photographed wearing a signet ring on the smallest finger of his left hand," she says. "For the then Prince of Wales this was a very personal and symbolic jewel – the precious yellow gold oval bezel is engraved with his heraldic badge of three ostrich feathers emerging from a gold coronet, with the ribbon below bearing the motto ‘Ich Dien’, or 'I serve'."

"We understand this very signet ring was a gift for King Charles from his Uncle, Prince Edward the Duke of Windsor, the previous Prince of Wales," she adds.

"Dating back to the Pharaohs, historically the signet ring has played an important role to authenticate documents, as the carved out individual crest left a permanent mark in any soft wax or clay. Sometimes known as ‘the gentlemen’s ring’, in recent decades women are just as likely to adopt the style. They are however still seen as a symbol of social standing, embodied by the etiquette of presenting a child on their 21st birthday with a signet ring of the family crest when they ‘come of age’ and have authority to use the crest."

King Charles has worn his Prince of Wales signet ring since the 1970s© Getty Images
It's not known whether King Charles will one day pass on his signet ring to his son the Prince of Wales

Though Prince William is now Prince of Wales, it's unknown whether King Charles plans to pass on the signet ring like his Uncle did. It seems unlikely at present, firstly because Prince William does not like to wear jewellery – he does not even wear his wedding ring – and secondly, because the signet carries great significance to the monarch.

READ NEXT: Royal wedding rings: The symbolic bands worn by Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton and more

King Charles chose to wear his Prince of Wales signet ring on his coronation day, proving its poignant meaning to him – can we expect to see it throughout his reign, too? That remains to be seen.

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