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5 times coronations haven't gone to plan ahead of King Charles' big day

King Charles will be crowned alongside his wife Queen Consort Camilla

Phoebe Tatham
Content Writer
6 April 2023
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King Charles III's coronation is just around the corner, and for Reverend Justin Welby, the historic occasion is already prompting "nightmares."

Speaking to Channel 4 News in 2022, the Archbishop of Canterbury explained: "It's giving me nightmares already. The normal sort of nightmares. I think two nights ago I dreamt we had got to the point [of placing the crown on the King's head] and I had left the crown at Lambeth Palace.

"Now, how did I get the crown to Lambeth Palace since it's guarded by half the Army? I've no idea. But I was looking around and the King was looking at me. A nightmare. It's obviously weighing on me quite a lot."

King Charles III at Braemar Highland Gathering 2022© Getty
King Charles III will be crowned on 6 May

Whilst the monarch's coronation plans have thus far been hiccup-free, the pressure is mounting for Charles and Camilla's big day.

READ MORE: How King Charles III's coronation will differ to Queen Elizabeth II's

DON'T MISS: King Charles III's coronation - details about service, concert and more

In the run-up to His Majesty's three-day spectacle, the team at HELLO! is taking a closer look at some of history's most memorable coronations (for all the wrong reasons). Keep scrolling to discover which coronation ceremonies fell flat, went awry, or quite literally, went up in smoke…

William the Conqueror

After defeating King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror was crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day in 1066. 

The ceremony was conducted by Aldred, Archbishop of York who presented the new monarch to the people with Bishop Geoffrey of Coutances translating the words in French.

The coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066© Getty
The coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066

The momentous occasion was met with loud cheers from both the French-speaking Normans and the English-speaking Saxons. Upon hearing the bellowing noise inside, nearby Norman soldiers suspected an assassination attempt was underway. 

Chaos ensued. Houses were set on fire, smoke started to fill the church and vicious riots broke out. Despite the mayhem, William and the officiating clergy completed the service unscathed.

Richard II

Richard ascended to the throne aged ten. The royal was crowned in Westminster Abbey on 16 July 1377, just 11 days after his grandfather's funeral. 

After a coronation procession through London steeped in pageantry, Richard II was crowned by Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Portrait of King Richard II on display at the National Portrait Gallery© Getty
Portrait of King Richard II on display at the National Portrait Gallery

The coronation proceedings weren't smooth sailing however… Following the religious ceremony, the Archbishop of Canterbury carried the King towards Westminster Hall from shoulder height, resulting in the King losing one of his shoes!

George IV

George IV's coronation was somewhat hindered by his estranged wife, Caroline of Brunswick. The couple – who reportedly loathed each other – were brought together by hopeful matchmakers in 1795. 

George IV of England with his wife Caroline of Brunswick© Getty
George IV of England with his wife Caroline of Brunswick

Aside from the prospect of building strong family ties, the proposed marriage promised to resolve the monarch's spiralling debts which amounted to an eye-watering £600,000.

MORE: Prince William's special role at King Charles's coronation

King George IV's coronation in Westminster Abbey © Getty
King George IV's coronation in Westminster Abbey

During George IV's coronation, the monarch refused to allow Caroline into the Abbey. She was prevented from entering the church despite her persistent attempts and incessant door knocking. A defeated Caroline was forced to leave Westminster Abbey.

MORE: King Charles celebrates following Prince Harry's return to UK 

SHOP: King Charles III coronation memorabilia: From mugs to tea towels, ornaments & more

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria's 1838 coronation ended in agony. While the service itself was allegedly ill-prepared and fraught with mishaps, there was one particularly painful moment involving the octagonal coronation ring set with sapphires and rubies. 

Queen Adelaide's Coronation Rings© Getty
Queen Adelaide's Coronation Rings

The statement piece of jewellery – which was previously worn by her uncle William IV, was accidentally squeezed onto her fourth finger instead of her fifth. Yikes!

READ:  Heartbreak for King Charles and Camilla surrounding their anniversary

The coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838© Getty
The coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838

In her diary, Queen Victoria revealed: "The Archbishop had (most awkwardly) put the ring on the wrong finger, and the consequence was that I had the greatest difficulty to take it off again, which I at last did with great pain."

Queen Elizabeth II

The late Queen's coronation ceremony was a joyous occasion watched by millions around the world. Despite the seemingly flawless proceedings, Queen Elizabeth II experienced one minor mishap inside Westminster Abbey. 

WATCH: All about the Queen's 1953 coronation

During her three-hour service, Her Majesty reportedly forgot to curtsey with her Maids of Honour at the north pillar of the abbey.

The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace© Getty
The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote in his diary: "The Maids of Honor regretted it because they had taken much time to get it just right, and I regretted it because from the Altar the sight of the Queen and the Maids of Honor curtseying was a very lovely one."

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LISTEN: Why Princess Kate is unlikely to wear a tiara at Charles' coronation

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