No coronets as peers told to dress down for Coronation by Palace

·3 min read

Peers attending King Charles’s coronation next month have been asked to dress down to match the atmosphere of the pared-back ceremony.

Members of the House of Lords traditionally wear a special coronation robe for the occasion made of scarlet velvet with a collar of white fur, and a coronet that determines their rank in the British peerage.

But those invited to the coronation on May 6 have been told they may only wear their usual parliamentary ermine, used at the state opening of Parliament each year, or standard business dress.

The Telegraph understands the more relaxed dress code is designed to fit with the monarch’s desire for a pared-back ceremony that reflects public attitudes towards the royal family and a desire to avoid excess during the cost of living crisis.

Peers that would prefer to wear a robe can borrow one from Parliament for the occasion. Most do not own their own.

Ceremonial dress for members of the peerage was first introduced in the late 15th century and coronation robes were standardised two hundred years later.

Fur collars made from ermine

The robes are only worn for coronations and often passed down between hereditary peers.

They are available to buy from specialist retailers including Ede and Ravenscroft, which has provided robes for 12 British coronations. This year’s dress code has been set for attendees by Buckingham Palace.

The fur collars on coronation robes are made from ermine, with black spots in varying patterns to signify the wearer’s rank, while historically peers also wore coronets of different designs depending on their seniority.

A baron, the lowest rank, would wear a band decorated with six silver balls, while a duke’s would be decorated with eight strawberry leaves.

At Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, peers were allowed to wear a “cap of maintenance”, a red velvet cap lined with ermine, in place of the coronet.

At Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, peers were allowed to wear a ‘cap of maintenance’ - Getty Images
At Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, peers were allowed to wear a ‘cap of maintenance’ - Getty Images

In an interview in 2018, the late Queen revealed many attendees had hidden sandwiches in their coronets in preparation for the three-hour ceremony.

King Charles’s ceremony is expected to last just over one hour, in an attempt to reduce the extravagance and complexity of the service.

The guest list is expected to be less than half the length of his mother’s, and national celebrations will be designed to reflect the diversity and multiculturalism of modern Britain.

Buckingham Palace has said in a statement that the ceremony will “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry”.

Many attendees are unlikely to have a good view of the King as he is crowned because they will be seated in side chapels to the main nave of Westminster Abbey.

The less-important guests seated elsewhere are likely to include MPs and peers.

“I suspect a lot of the MPs who go won’t be able to see a thing,” said one well-placed source.

“There will be quite a lot of people who will get quite a rubbish view.”

A Government source confirmed that not all attendees will be able to see the ceremony but noted that the same was true at other coronations throughout history.