It was eight o’clock on Sunday morning, Midsummer’s Day, when they set out from Whitehall Palace. Members of the House of Lords and twenty eight bishops in copes and mitres preceded them as the procession entered Westminster Abbey.
Henry and his Queen advanced up the nave of the Abbey towards the central crossing, where all but two of England’s monarchs since 1066 have been crowned. The Archbishop of Canterbury presented him to the congregation, who acclaimed him four times with a cry of ‘Vivat, vivat rex’ (‘Long live the King’).
‘I shall by God’s grace defend you, and every each of you, bishops and abbots, through my realm. So help me God, and these holy evangelists, by me bodily touched upon this holy altar.’
Henry was then anointed with holy oil and consecrated with the crown of St Edward the Confessor. The choir sang the Te Deum as the bishops led him to his throne to receive the homage of his chief subjects.
Queen Catherine too was crowned in a much shorter ceremony. The organ was playing as the royal couple retraced their steps along the nave and left the abbey. Drums and trumpets were sounding and church bells rang to signify that Henry VIII ‘had been gloriously crowned to the comfort of all the land.’
Afterwards, the procession headed back to Westminster Hall for the coronation beano. A lavish feast had been arranged for them, ‘greater than any Caesar had known.’
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 108. What happened at Henry VIII’s coronation feast? See Question 46 for a clue.