Coronation Anecdotes Part 22
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Her Royal Highness the d.u.c.h.ess of Gloucester was the first of the royal family who arrived in the Hall; taking her seat in the royal box at a quarter before six. Her Royal Highness was splendidly attired in a rich dress of silver lama over French lilac; head-dress, a white satin hat, with an elegant plume of white feathers, turned up with a diamond b.u.t.ton and loop in front; and appeared to be in excellent health and spirits.
Soon afterwards the d.u.c.h.ess of Clarence entered the Hall, and took her seat next to her royal sister-in-law, the d.u.c.h.ess of Gloucester. About half past seven their Royal Highnesses the d.u.c.h.ess of Kent, the Princess Sophia of Gloucester, and the Princess Feodore (daughter of the d.u.c.h.ess of Kent) took their seats in the royal box. Their Royal Highnesses were attired in splendid dresses of white satin, richly embroidered in silver, with rich bandeau head-dresses, and large plumes of white feathers.
The herb-women entered the Hall from the south end before eight o'clock.
Miss Fellowes, the princ.i.p.al herb-woman, was led in by Mr. Fellowes; and the six young ladies, her a.s.sistants, followed two and two. They were afterwards seated at the north entrance of the Hall. They were elegantly dressed in white, tastefully decorated with flowers. Miss Fellowes wore, in addition to the same dress, a scarlet mantle. At eight o'clock three large baskets were brought into the Hall, filled with flowers, for them to bear. Of a very different description from these were some persons who were observed in various parts of the Hall. These were well-known prize-fighters, who were stationed from an idea of the necessity of keeping peace among the honourable and n.o.ble throng. We observed Cribb, Randall, Richmond, and we understood many others were present.
The canopy was removed at eight o'clock from the side table where it had been placed, and was brought into the middle of the Hall. The barons of the Cinque Ports were then marshalled, two to each pole; they then bore the canopy down the Hall by way of practice, according to a word of command.--Some laughter was at first excited by the irregular manner in which the bearers moved. Their dresses were, however, extremely splendid--large cloaks of garter-blue satin, with slashed arms of scarlet, and stockings of dead red.
Many peers had been occasionally in the Hall at a very early hour in the morning, and before eight o'clock they had all arrived at the buildings near the House of Lords, and took their coronets and robes. The archbishops and bishops a.s.sembled about the same time, and vested themselves in their rochets, in the House of Lords and chambers adjacent. The judges, and others of the long robe, together with the gentlemen of the privy chamber, esquires of the body, serjeants at law, masters in chancery, aldermen of London, chaplains having dignities, and six clerks in chancery, being all in their proper habits, a.s.sembled at the places, of which notice has been given, where the officers of arms arranged them according to their respective cla.s.ses, four in a rank, placing the youngest on the left, and then conducted them into the Hall.
The King's serjeants were in red gowns. The masters in chancery (nine of whom attended) were in the dress in which they attend the house of lords.
The barons of the Cinque Ports took a second turn in the Hall, which, as it began with more formality, was attended with more laughter than the first. About this time also the four swords were brought in, and deposited on the end of the left hand table, with the spurs, and a cus.h.i.+on for the crown. The knights of the Bath now began to a.s.semble, and with the others who were to take part in the procession, were ranged at the end of the Hall. The dresses of the knights of the Bath were extremely splendid, but somewhat gaudy. The knights had all close dresses of white satin, puckered in a variety of ways. The grand crosses wore flowing robes of pinkish red satin, lined with white; the commanders small mantles. The judges and privy counsellors, not being peers, next entered; the latter in splendid dresses of blue velvet and gold.
Among them were the Earl of Yarmouth, Lord Binning, Mr. Canning, Mr.
Bathurst, Mr. Huskisson, Sir G. Hill, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Beckett, Lord G.
Beresford, and Mr. Wallace.
The barons then entered, Lords Stowell and Maryborough (late Sir W.
Scott and W. W. Pole), being among the first. There were but forty-nine (if we rightly counted them) present. Next came the bishops--fifteen attended; the viscounts, nineteen in number. The earls were more numerous--we should think seventy or eighty; but the Hall now became so crowded that there was a difficulty in counting them accurately. The marquesses and dukes, and lastly the great officers of state, archbishops, and members of the royal family, entered. Prince Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg was in the full robes of the order of the Garter. The princes of the blood and some of the dukes placed themselves on the right of the platform about the throne. The marquesses and some of the earls on the left side, formed a line with those who had descended to the floor of the Hall. The show of ermine and velvet on the descent of the platform was of the most magnificent description.
A herald then went through the line of peers, marshalling each according to the order of their creation--the junior first. They were a second time called over, and ranged in a double file on each side of the middle s.p.a.ce of the Hall by Mr. Mash.
Before the King entered, the peers were all ranged on each side of the Hall, none being left on the platform but the great officers of state and the royal family.
Precisely at ten o'clock the King entered the Hall from the door behind the throne, habited in robes of enormous size and richness, wearing a black hat with a monstrous plume of ostrich feathers, out of the midst of which rose a black heron's plume. His Majesty seemed very much oppressed with the weight of his robes. The train was of enormous length and breadth. It was of crimson velvet adorned with large golden stars, and a broad golden border. His Majesty frequently wiped his face while he remained seated. He went through the ceremonies, which we have described, with much spirit and apparent good humour. In descending the steps of the platform his Majesty seemed very feeble, and requested the aid and support of an officer who was near him. Instead of standing under the canopy, his Majesty, perhaps afraid of the awkwardness of the barons, preceded it. The canopy was therefore always borne after him.
When his Majesty had got a little way down the Hall, he turned to his train-bearers, and requested them to bear his train farther from him, apparently with a view to relieve himself from the weight. As he went down the Hall he conversed with much apparent cheerfulness with the bishop of Lincoln, who was on his right hand.
It will behove the historian to record the unsuccessful attempts of her Majesty to obtain the usual honour of Queen-Consort on the preceding occasion, _i.e._ that of a joint coronation with her husband; and too much public attention was excited to the subject at the period of the coronation to render our sketch of that august ceremony complete without adverting to it.
Her Majesty first presented a memorial, desiring to know in what way she was to attend the coronation; to which it was replied, that it rested with the King to nominate who should be present, and his Majesty was advised that he could not allow her to be present.
The Queen rejoined, that she should be present if not absolutely prohibited; and it was farther replied, that his Majesty's ministers advised that she could not be received.
She now prayed the King in council (July 1) to be heard by her legal advisers against this decision--a request which was granted "as matter of _favour_," according to the language of the minister, "but not of right;" and, on Thursday, July 5, at ten o'clock in the morning, the Privy Council met at Whitehall to hear her Majesty's claim argued. For many years so large a Privy Council had not met, there being forty-nine members present, besides a considerable number of members of parliament not of the council.
Mr. BROUGHAM, after stating the refusal of the dean and chapter of Westminster to grant him the use of the "_Liber Regalis_" (a formula of the coronation ceremony in their custody), and having induced the president to send for that volume, commenced by observing:
That "the King had the right of being crowned," was a proposition which he thought he should have no difficulty of supporting; and that the Queen enjoyed the same right, he thought he could establish upon exactly the same legal ground. The ground upon which he mainly relied was a uniform, uninterrupted practice, in the sense in which he thought he should be permitted to use and avail himself of these terms in a court of justice, and in which he should be justified in establis.h.i.+ng out of them the legal existence of any private right. That some interruptions had arisen in this uniform practice he was prepared to admit and explain, for they were such as did not affect the uninterrupted right; but, in the mode in which he had to account for them, rather sanctioned and confirmed it. There would be two propositions which he entreated their lords.h.i.+ps to bear in mind while he went through his narrative of historical facts. The first was the uniform exercise of the right; namely, that no king had ever been crowned, being married at the time of his coronation, without the queen-consort herself partaking with the king in the solemnity of the coronation; and, secondly, that there never was a queen-consort in England who had not partaken of the ceremony of the coronation: but in making these two propositions, he begged of course to be understood, as using them subject to the usual qualifications of general propositions; which were--being bound to show that where any interruptions had existed, they did not compromise the general right. With interruptions, as to the first proposition, he had but one to contend, which was capable of easy solution. As to the second, he could easily and satisfactorily explain whatever exceptions had arisen, for they were few, and tended to confirm the right of the Queen-Consort. The learned gentleman then proceeded to call the attention of the lords of the council to various records which he quoted from English history, in order to establish his proposition,--the right of British queens to be crowned, from the year 784, through the Saxon and Norman lines, down to the house of Tudor. In Henry the Second's reign a remarkable circ.u.mstance occurred: the solemnity of crowning his eldest son took place in his father's life-time; the prince was married to a daughter of Louis of France, and she was not crowned although her husband was. The novelty of that omission of what was considered a uniform ceremony, led to a complaint and remonstrance to the king of England, and the result was, that he had recourse for redress to the usual process of kings--to arms, and a declaration of war; and in front of his reasons for taking that step, the French king placed the omission to crown his daughter with her husband. Henry was at length obliged to submit, for he went over to France and entered into some compromise with Louis to avert hostilities, and the daughter of the French king was solemnly crowned at Winchester by bishops and other venerable and distinguished authorities, who were sent over from France to perform the ceremony of her coronation with suitable splendour.
On arriving at the era of Henry the Sixth, the learned counsel said he should refer to the law of Scotland about the period of history at which he was pa.s.sing. The Scottish doc.u.ments contained enough to establish the fact, that no king of Scotland who was married at the time of his coronation was ever crowned without his consort; nor, where the marriage took place afterwards, was there an instance in which a Scottish queen was not crowned as soon as possible after she became queen. The learned counsel then referred to the act 1428 in the Scottish statutes, cap.
109, pa.s.sed in the eighth parliament of James the First, and read the "aith to be made to the queen, be the clergie and the baronnes."
The case of Henry the Seventh's queen was next quoted. She had been crowned two years after the king's coronation. This coronation was announced by proclamation similar to that which had announced his own two years and a month before; and the order of it, as would be seen in the Close Roll, and in Rymer, was similar to that observed at all other coronations of queens-consort. The varying conduct of Henry the Eighth with regard to his queens was then accounted for. Charles the First was crowned without his queen, because of the antipathy of the people against the papists, of whom she was one; yet only nine days before he was himself crowned, a proclamation was issued for the crowning of his queen, but observing the popular feeling to be against such a measure, that ceremony was postponed. The queen was said to have objected to take any part in the coronation unless she could be a.s.sisted in it by a popish priest, which the const.i.tution of the country rendered absolutely impossible. The same reasons operated against the crowning of Charles the Second's queen, who was also a papist. James the Second and his queen were crowned together, although they were both Roman Catholics.
If he and his consort could reconcile it to themselves to go into a Protestant cathedral, and to partake in the ceremonies of a Protestant ritual, there was an end of the difficulty which he had described as originating from the words of one of the oaths having one sense to one of the parties who took them, and another to the other. Since the revolution every thing regarding this subject was well known, and every king and queen had been regularly crowned. With regard to the queen of George the First, he must beg leave to observe, that as she had never been in this country, he had nothing to do with her. Besides, she was said to have been divorced from her husband by the sentence of a foreign ecclesiastical court before he ascended the throne of this country; so that it was legally impossible that she could be crowned if she had been divorced from her husband, and physically impossible if she had never set foot in the country. Her case, therefore, formed no exception to her present Majesty's right. Whilst he was upon this subject he might be permitted to remark, as not extraneous to it, that he had not expected and did not expect to hear in that court, as a bar to her Majesty's claim, that some proceedings had been inst.i.tuted against her. He made that a.s.sertion not on his own authority, but on the authority of a n.o.ble and learned judge, who, in giving sentence on the King and Wolfe, in the court of the highest resort in the country, had said, in consequence of some observations having been made as to the defendant having been guilty of some great offence, "If a man be guilty of ever so great an offence, and the proceedings against him fail in substantiating that offence, he is to be considered in law as innocent as if no such offence had ever been charged against him."
Friday, July 6.--Mr. BROUGHAM rose at a few minutes after ten to resume his speech. He had yesterday gone through a long and unbroken series of precedents, showing that no king of England had ever been crowned, he being married at the time of his coronation, without his consort partic.i.p.ating in that ceremony. Having gone so far, he contended that he had a right to a.s.sume his larger proposition, that queens-consort had, at all times throughout the ages of English history, themselves enjoyed the ceremony of the coronation. If in one or two instances this was not done at the time when the king's own coronation took place, and supposing that there was an instance or two where the queen-consort became such after the coronation of the king, still he would affirm, that according to all the rules of argument, of law, and of common sense, those few instances, (admitting there were some, though in point of strict fact he believed there were none,) did not in any manner or degree affect his general argument, which he held upon the authorities he had cited to be altogether incontrovertible. He was not before their lords.h.i.+ps to show where the right which he a.s.serted in behalf of the queen-consort had been claimed and refused. In every instance, in which it was actually possible for a coronation of a queen to take place, he had shown that it had been solemnized. There was not a single case which, _quoad_ that case, cast a doubt upon the uniform force of his proposition, except that of Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles the First; and he reminded their lords.h.i.+ps, it was merely a doubt so far as that particular case went. He had a right then to a.s.sume the larger proposition, that all queens-consort of England had, in point of fact, been crowned. Nothing was clearer in the rules of equity and law, than that non-uses did not forfeit, unless where they clearly, from the length of the lapse, involved a waiver of the claim. Where a right had been disputed, and the opposition a.s.sented to by the party tacitly, or confirmed by a competent authority, then, of course, there was an end to the legal exercise of such a right. But here the very reverse was the fact. Suppose he were called upon to prove a right of way or a right of common, (the two instances in which the courts of law were most commonly called upon to consider the length of usage,) the principle of law would go with the uniformity, and the absence of exercising the right in one or two particular instances would prove nothing. There were three modes of calling into question the fact of usage; _first_, as to its uniform enjoyment; _next_, where the right claimed by the party had been contested, but nevertheless enjoyed by the person exercising it; and the _third_ case was, where the right a.s.serted had been confiscated, and an adjudication pa.s.sed upon it: that was of course held to be conclusive against the party, where the right claimed was refused, opposed, and not acquiesced in; then he admitted that no long admission of the right could be pleaded without the fatal interruption of the bar. He entreated their lords.h.i.+ps to try the usage of the coronation of the queen-consort by these three principles of investigating such rights founded upon immemorial custom. Of the first, namely, uniform enjoyment, they had abundant proof. As to the second, namely, the occurrence of interruption in the exercise of the right, non-acquiescence in that interruption, a successful and most complete resistance to the attempt to withhold the exercise of the right, they had that, fully sustaining his proposition, in the case of the wife of Prince Henry; where Henry thought proper in his lifetime to crown his eldest son without also crowning that eldest son's consort. He had therefore with him the uniform enjoyment of the right her Majesty claimed; then the successful resistance of an attempt, as in Henry's case, to delay the exercise of the right; and lastly, the total absence of any adjudication or confiscation, or any thing like either in any single instance against him. There was, in fact, no other possible way of showing the existence of the right, but in the manner in which he was a.s.suming, proving, and, as he thought, establis.h.i.+ng it. How else, before the Court of Claims, were rights of service at the ceremony of the coronation established? How else did the barons of the Cinque Ports show their right to carry the canopy over the king, and to have a part of that canopy for their service? Suppose any instance in which the barons should, for want of specific proof, in the lapse of ages, fail to show that they had exercised that privilege--would that countervail the validity of their claim, founded on repeated usage? Certainly not. He would venture to say that there were at least half a dozen instances in which the barons could not show they had exercised their a.s.serted right: and would any of these instances, where that proof failed, shake the firm hold of their long and undeniable usage? Upon a reference to the services which were to be performed at the ceremony of the coronation, it was clear, from the separate rights held upon the performance of particular kinds of attendance upon the queen, that her part of the ceremony was substantive, independent, and princ.i.p.al; that her right was clearly within herself, and not dependent upon the mere will of the King. So essential, indeed, was it that she should be crowned with all the forms of pomp which belonged to such a solemnity, that the same writs of summons were issued, and nearly the same demands of service made upon officers of state as when the king himself was crowned. The usage clearly governed the right, and more especially in this solemnity of coronation, which was altogether the creature of precedent, and existed only by its authority. The queen's coronation was in itself manifestly a substantive, important, and independent ceremony, ill.u.s.trative of the right of the one party, and not dependent or contingent upon the mere will of the monarch. The origin of the king's ceremonial was lost in remote antiquity; but the numerous tenures and dependencies determinable by the non-performance of services at the solemnity, showed how important it was intended to be in the eyes of the people. The only grounds of right for the king's coronation, the queen equally had for hers; and there were, as he had already stated, separate forms prescribed for those who were officially to attend her ceremony.
The learned counsel then quoted some pa.s.sages from the _Liber Regalis_, being merely directions for particular parts of the ceremonial to be observed on the queen's coronation. Every solemnity of which the origin was lost in distant antiquity, which was in itself of a most high and public nature, and which occupied a great and important s.p.a.ce in the history of the country, he would fearlessly a.s.sert, must be deemed and taken as the right of the realm, and not as a mere appanage of the king.
He held the coronation of the king himself to be a right of this nature; and that, not merely in the present times on account of the coronation oath, (which had been devised by the legislature on the coronation of William and Mary,) but also in times long before them: indeed, it had always been considered as a high and august ceremony with which the monarch himself could not dispense; it being the right of the sovereign, not in his individual but in his political capacity, for the benefit of the whole nation, in which capacity alone the nation knew him at his coronation. So much with regard to the coronation of the king.
The coronation of the queen ought to be considered in a similar light, from its having been celebrated almost without interruption with the same publicity, and from being in its nature such as he had repeatedly described it. The king and the queen being both of them the mere creations of the law, the solemnities of their coronations were mere creations of the law also, and were known to it in no other light than as the rights of the whole realm of England. He, therefore, who was ready to take one step, and to get rid of the queen's coronation, as a mere optional ceremony, ought to be ready to take also another step, and to get rid of the king's coronation, on the ground of its being a vain, idle, empty, and expensive pageant. Her claim to a coronation rested upon immemorial usage, and the numerous rights of individuals which were interwoven and connected with it. Indeed, it rested on the same foundation as the king's: it was supported by the same arguments, and the interruptions which it had experienced admitted of the same explanations that he had given to those which had occurred in the case of the king. He had mentioned, in the course of his argument, the rights which belonged to other individuals in consequence of the queen's right to a coronation. If a coronation was not granted to her Majesty, their rights were unavailing to them; and that, in his opinion, formed a very sufficient reason why it should be celebrated. That the coronation was the acknowledgment of the king by the people, he conceived to be a point which it was unnecessary to prove to their lords.h.i.+ps: but he might be permitted to remark to them, that the coronation of the queen was even considered as an acknowledgment of her right to enjoy that dignity in an entry in a charter roll of the fifth year of King John, now preserved in the Tower. The entry to which he alluded was the grant of certain lands in dower to his Queen Isabella, and it referred by way of recital to her coronation as queen. This excerpt was of no small importance in the consideration of this question; for it proved to their lords.h.i.+ps, that in times when the coronation of the king was positively either his election, or the recognition of his election as monarch, the coronation of the queen was conducted, for the very same reasons, with the same solemnities. This was evident from the description of what was done, and from the manner and the avowed object of doing it. John was crowned to show that he was king--"_coronatus in regem_." Isabella was crowned to show that she was queen--"_in reginam coronata communi consensu archiepiscoporum_," &c. &c. The very same persons who elected, or recognised, or only crowned him as their monarch, are, in this pa.s.sage, recorded to have elected, or recognised, or only crowned her as their queen. Was it intended to be maintained that no right existed, whenever something moving from the crown was necessary to the exercise of it? He would frankly confess that he knew of no right which a subject could enjoy without the interposition of the crown in some manner or other.
All writs issued from the crown, and no right could be maintained without them; yet, would any one dispute the right of the subject to obtain them? Supposing a peer were to die, and the crown were to refuse a writ of summons to his eldest son: it was said to be by pet.i.tion of right alone that he could sue to the crown to be admitted to his father's honours; and yet that pet.i.tion of right would be considered as a strict undeniable legal right. He could refer also to cases in which the subject could demand, not merely the king's writ, but also the king's proclamation, to which he was ent.i.tled, not by a common law right, but by a right given him by an express statute; for instance, in all cases relative to prize-money. Again, supposing that the House of Commons were to die a natural death after sitting for seven years, and the king were to refuse to issue his proclamation to convoke another within three years of that period, as ordered by the first of William and Mary, sec. 2, cap. 2, would it be a.s.serted that the subject would have no right to call for the proclamation of the king to convoke another parliament, because such proclamation could not issue without an act of the crown? He thought that none of their lords.h.i.+ps would advocate such an absurdity. But the subject and the country were in full possession of all these rights; and if the Queen's right to a coronation were put upon the same footing, it would be equally clear that she possessed it, and that the necessity of granting it was as obvious as it was imperative. He had heard it said that her Majesty could not claim the honours of a coronation by prescription, because she was not a corporation. This, however, he denied. Her Majesty certainly could prescribe, for what business had they to call her Majesty less a corporation than the King? But still, supposing her not to be a corporation, she had a right to prescribe as a functionary, holding a high dignity and situation. This was evident from Baron Comyn's Digest, who, under the t.i.tle of _Prescription_, lays it down that such a functionary can claim by prescription. In conclusion, Mr. Brougham said, their lords.h.i.+ps would sit in dignified judgment on the opinion given by the great lawyers of the nineteenth century; and, as he firmly believed, finding they had no difficulties to explain, perceiving that they had no obscurities to clear up, they would not be under the necessity of referring to those remote periods of our history, to which he had been obliged to allude, but would look back to the first decision that ever had been given on this question, with that decided confidence which the names of those privy counsellors before whom the case was argued would in after-times command--a judgment, which he ventured confidently to p.r.o.nounce, would not derogate from the high character they had so long maintained.
Mr. DENMAN followed on the same side, and after a long speech, called on their lords.h.i.+ps, as a court sitting for legal inquiry, to say whether there ever was a case presented to an inquest, which depended on custom and usage, where a more complete and perfect body of custom and usage had been adduced, than was brought forward on the present occasion? If her Majesty's claim were refused, no dignity was safe, no property was secure, not a single inst.i.tution could be said to rest on a firm foundation. If the coronation of the Queen could not be supported by custom, the rest of that ceremonial could not be supported. Why was this country governed by a king? Why did we submit to a kingly government?
Because the earliest ages, because all times, had recognised that form of government, and because we could trace that custom beyond all time of memory. Nothing could be more dangerous than to separate royalty from the circ.u.mstances which belonged to it and added to its dignity. The lives and properties of men depended for their security upon the same principle. Why was there a house of peers, in which n.o.ble lords formed a part of the legislature? Why were there commoners, who sat as representatives of the people? Precisely because custom had ordered it so. Custom was the author of the law and the law-makers. Custom authorized the king, lords, and commons, to enact laws for the government of this realm. All property, all dignity, all offices existed, because they were sanctioned by prescriptive custom, or because custom gave a prescriptive right to create them.
Sat.u.r.day.--The Privy Council resumed this morning, soon after ten o'clock. Below the bar was again crowded to excess.
Counsel were then called in.
MR. BROUGHAM said, he now held in his hand, and was prepared to lay before the council, the doc.u.mentary evidence to which he and his learned friend had adverted in the course of their addresses in support of her Majesty's memorial.
LORD HARROWBY.--Mr. Attorney-General, have you any observations to offer on what counsel have stated to their lords.h.i.+ps?
The ATTORNEY-GENERAL then rose.--He said, he perhaps should best discharge his duty by stating, at the commencement, that, in his own opinion, the argument and claim were wholly unfounded. That the claim was not founded on any recognised law, appeared from the statements and course of proceeding adopted by her Majesty's counsel. He would add, that the claim now made, so far from ever being supposed to have any foundation, was not even mentioned by any writer on the laws and const.i.tution. It had never been agitated or alluded to in any way, not even by those writers who had touched on the privileges peculiar to a queen-consort. The one single ground urged in support of the claim was usage--that usage was supposed to have prevailed through a long series of years at the coronation of kings who were married. It had been stated with confidence that such usage was evidence in support of the right; but when they were talking of rights founded on usage, it was not sufficient to state that particular facts had taken place. In all such cases, where the facts were relied on, it was essential to state the circ.u.mstances that had attended such facts, the peculiarities that had accompanied the alleged privilege, whether it was right of way or otherwise. As to the right of way, for instance; if permission were given to use certain paths or roads, the fact of such permission having preceded the use, at once destroyed the claim of right. If the license and permission were proved, there was an end of the right. By that proof, all the inferences drawn from the use were at an end--they were at once destroyed. The coronation was for the purpose of the monarch's recognition by the people, and on the part of the king to enter into the solemn compact to preserve the laws. The coronation of a queen was a mere ceremony; but that of the king was something more than ceremony.
His coronation was accompanied by important political acts--the recognition by the people, and, on the other hand, the solemn compact entered into by the sovereign to preserve and maintain the laws of the realm. Still, however, as far as the king was concerned, it was a ceremony; it was not necessary to the sovereign's possession of the crown--it was what proceeded from his will, and might be dispensed with.
But the queen-consort, who filled no political character in the state, had only enjoyed the privilege because she was the king's consort. With respect to a queen-consort, when she was crowned, there was no recognition of her by the people, no compact towards the people. There was no engagement between her and the subjects of the realm. This fact established that, with respect to a queen-consort, a coronation was an honorary ceremony, unaccompanied by any acts. That the coronation neither was, nor had been considered to be essential to the possession of the crown, was proved by the fact of considerable delays having often taken place between the accession of the monarch and his coronation.
Henry the Sixth, for instance, was not crowned till eight years after the crown had descended to him. Again, in the "_Pleas of the Crown_," it was held, that the king was fully invested with the crown the moment it descended to him; that he was absolutely king although there should have been no coronation. If the coronation of a king, important as he held it to be, proceeded from the sovereign will, _a fortiori_ it must be so with that of a queen-consort. The rights of the queen-consort did not proceed from any coronation; they flowed from her relations.h.i.+p to the sovereign. Her rights were complete and absolute without any coronation.
Nor was it essential to the people, for the queen-consort occupied no political station. This view of the right was strengthened by the important preamble of William and Mary, which settled the coronation oath. The language of the act applied to queens regnant, not to queens-consort, for to the latter no oath was administered. As the oath was prescribed, it became necessary that every reigning monarch should be crowned, that there might be the oath and recognition; but the law made no mention of any thing that rendered such a ceremony requisite in the instance of a queen-consort. How then could the crowning of a queen-consort be considered a necessary adjunct of the coronation of the reigning monarch? No part of the ceremony rendered her presence requisite. Selden's work had been quoted in support of the memorial; amongst other things, Selden expressly said that the "anointing, &c. of the queen-consort, were dignities communicated by the king." Selden further stated, that the anointing of the queen, as well as her consecration--it was, in fact, a consecration rather than a coronation--proceeded from the "request" and "demand" of the king, after he had been crowned, made to the metropolitan, who had performed such ceremony. Bracton had entered largely into the particulars _de coronatione regis_, but not one word of the queen's coronation. There was not a single law-writer that had touched upon the existence of such a right, as appertaining to a queen. Blackstone had it not, nor Lord c.o.ke, nor Selden. He next adverted at some length to the precedents quoted by his learned friends opposite, beginning with that of William the Conqueror. The very precedents quoted by his learned friends raised the inference, if there were no other arguments, that the act, so far as related to the queen, was entirely dependent on the will of the king.
The Attorney-General then referred largely to Reymer, from whose book he quoted apposite pa.s.sages, in support of his main argument, that the ceremony of a queen's coronation was entirely dependent upon the order of the king. In all, from the time of Henry the Seventh, six queens had been crowned, and seven had not; so that the majority was against the present claim, which it had been attempted to support on the plea of ancient, uninterrupted usage.
The Attorney-General concluded at a quarter before one o'clock; and the Solicitor-General, after a short pause, rose to follow his learned friend, and of course was compelled to go over the same ground, strengthening and confirming the preceding statements by such arguments as occurred to his observance, and contending that the usage pleaded by her Majesty's law-officers arose entirely from the sovereign's will and pleasure.
About two o'clock MR. BROUGHAM rose in reply, but we can touch but very briefly on his arguments. It had been intimated that the queen's right to be crowned rested on the proclamation of the king; but it might as well be pleaded that the right of the eldest sons of peers to seats in the House of Lords rested on the king's writ, because usually preceded by it. It had been argued from the word _postulamus_, that the queen's coronation depended on the king's will; but it might as well be argued, from another term employed (_dignemini_), that it was optional in the archbishop. If this right was unnecessary for the queen, how was it necessary to the king? He contended not for the necessity, but the right. The learned gentleman then went over the various cases and authorities of the learned counsel for the crown, and concluded by stating his opinion, that even if the _right_ were not established, the expediency was such, that the council would be all but criminal, in advising that her Majesty should be excluded from her part in this important ceremony; for it would be setting an example of the most injurious nature.
MR. BROUGHAM concluded his reply at half-past three o'clock. Strangers were then ordered to withdraw; the counsel and agents on both sides, however, remaining. The Tower record-keepers were called in, to verify certain doc.u.ments produced by Mr. Brougham. After which, at a quarter to four o'clock, the Privy Council adjourned.
The decision was ultimately _against_ the Queen's claim.
On the 11th of July, in the House of Commons, MR. HUME made an ineffectual attempt to induce the House to address his Majesty on this much-agitated subject.
He had just commenced the reading of a resolution "That an humble address be presented to his Majesty, praying that he will be graciously pleased to issue his royal proclamation for the coronation of her Majesty," when the deputy-usher of the black rod was heard knocking at the door; and as he was concluding it, he was called to order by the Speaker, who reminded him of the presence of that officer; and proceeded forthwith to the House of Peers, where parliament was prorogued.
The following spirited protest of her Majesty appeared on the 17th.
HER MAJESTY'S PROTEST AGAINST THE DECISION OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL.
To the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
_The Protest and Remonstrance of_ CAROLINE, _Queen of Great Britain and Ireland._
Your Majesty having been pleased to refer to your privy council the Queen's memorial, claiming as of right to celebrate the ceremony of her coronation on the 19th day of July, being the day appointed for the celebration of your Majesty's royal coronation; and Lord Viscount Sidmouth, one of your Majesty's princ.i.p.al secretaries of state, having communicated to the Queen the judgment p.r.o.nounced against her Majesty's claim; in order to preserve her just rights, and those of her successors, and to prevent the said minute being in after-times referred to as deriving validity from her Majesty's supposed acquiescence in the determination therein expressed, the Queen feels it to be her bounden duty to enter her most deliberate and solemn protest against the said determination; and to affirm and maintain, that by the laws, usages, and customs of this realm, from time immemorial, the queen-consort ought of right to be crowned at the same time with the king's majesty.
Coronation Anecdotes Part 22
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Coronation Anecdotes Part 22 summary
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