Advertisement

King's coronation: Why is the sovereign's ring called 'the wedding ring of England'?

The priceless piece forms an integral part of King Charles's coronation.

The sovereign's ring has long been called the 'wedding ring of England'. (Royal Collection/Getty Images)
The sovereign's ring has long been called the 'wedding ring of England'. (Royal Collection/Getty Images)

King Charles’s coronation on 6 May has already been the catalyst to dusting off several of the Crown jewels from the Tower of London, as some pieces are set to be used for the first time in 70 years at the ceremony on Saturday.

From the orb to the sceptre, the Westminster Abbey ceremony will be filled with the finest regalia, most of which is steeped in several hundred years of Royal Family history.

Not least the sovereign’s ring, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘wedding ring of England’.

Here’s everything you need to know about the sovereign’s ring, and how it got its nickname.

What is the sovereign's ring?

The sovereign’s ring is part of the Crown jewels. Made by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell in 1831 for the coronation of King William IV, the ring features a large sapphire at the centre with baguette-cut rubies in the form of a cross atop the gem.

It echoes the style of the Union flag whereby the blue of the sapphire represents the Cross of Saint Andrew (Scottish flag) and the red ruby represents the Cross of Saint George (English flag).

Sovereign's ring
The sovereign's ring forms part of the Crown jewels. (Royal Collection)

Two more diamond brilliants are set in the shoulders of the ring, which is created from gold and also features an additional gold ring.

First worn by William IV for his coronation, the sovereign’s ring forms part of the investiture of the coronation.

It is preceded by the anointing with holy oil, and is followed by the crowning itself. It's placed on the fourth finger of the sovereign’s right hand by the archbishop, as a symbol of 'kingly dignity'.

See all the regalia used in King Charles's coronation

What is the ‘wedding ring of England’?

The sovereign’s ring is often called the ‘wedding ring of England’, to represent the incoming monarch’s ‘marriage to the nation’.

According to historian Anna Keay, this dates back to Queen Elizabeth I’s coronation in 1558. When asked about her failure to take a husband, reportedly Elizabeth I “pointed to her coronation ring and said she was married to the realm of England”.

Queen Elizabeth II after her 1952 coronation, wearing the sovereign's ring on her right hand. (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II after her 1952 coronation, wearing the sovereign's ring on her right hand. (Getty Images)

Until the current piece, most of the coronation rings were made specifically for each monarch (and their consort, if necessary) and kept in the personal jewellery collection of the monarch. However, King William IV left the coronation rings to his wife, Queen Adelaide, upon his death, who then bequeathed them to Queen Victoria.

Victoria left both of the rings, along with her own coronation ring, to the Crown in 1901 and all three were deposited in the Tower of London, with the other Crown Jewels, by George V in March 1919.

Will Queen Camilla wear a ring at the coronation?

Camilla will also wear a ring when she is crowned Queen Camilla.

Queen Adelaide's ring has been used since 1831 when she was crowned Queen Consort alongside King William IV, but the tradition of a queen consort ring has dated back to the 13th century.

Queen consort coronation ring
Camilla, Queen Consort will also wear a coronation ring with a ruby centre. (Royal Collection)

The queen consort ring features an octagonal central ruby, surrounded by 14 cushion-cut diamonds, atop a gold shank set with 14 graduated rubies.

The ring symbolises the queen consort being “wedded” to the people and the King, and was last worn by Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at the coronation of her husband King George VI in 1937.