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A Brief History of Coronations on Screen

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History will be made on Saturday 6 May 2023. For the very first time, a coronation service will be beamed from Westminster Abbey into cinemas the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. In order to mark this august occasion, Cinema Paradiso looks back at how coronations have been reported and romanticised on screen over the last 130 years.

It's been seven decades since this country last witnessed the crowning of a monarch. King Charles III will be one of the few people to have seen it all at close quarters before. On 2 June 1953, he took his place between his grandmother and his aunt as the first child ever to watch their mother become sovereign. The four year-old occasionally looked bored during the almost three-hour ceremony and was discreetly ushered away shortly after communion. This time, however, he'll get to see how it all plays out. But no one yet knows whether his five year-old grandson, Prince Louis, will be on his best behaviour after cameras caught his petulant antics at last summer's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Crowned Heads (1896-1936)

Five months after the first moving pictures were projected on to a screen in Paris, Louis and Auguste Lumière sent cameras to Moscow to record the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II on 14 May 1896. Four cameramen, Camille Cerf, Francis Dubliet, Charles Moisson, and Alexandre Promio, captured the solemn processions between the various cathedrals of the Kremlin. Their footage was edited into a 93-minute documentary (the first of its kind) that so delighted the new ruler that he set up a newsreel, The Tsarist Chronicle, to keep his subjects informed of events across his vast empire.

A still from A Trip to the Moon (1902)
A still from A Trip to the Moon (1902)

A few fragments are available to view online, but recent plans to restore the full feature were shelved owing to funding issues. The pomp and circumstance is readily evident from the surviving snippets, however, as is the case with the hand-coloured footage from the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. The parade photographed by companies like British Mutoscope and Biograph and Mitchell & Kenyon was actually held in October, as a health scare had resulted in the king's crowning being a low-key affair on 9 August after it has been delayed from 26 June.

Both Thomas Edison and Georges Méliès restaged the ceremonial in their respective studios. The latter was planning A Trip to the Moon (1902) when American producer Charles Urban commissioned a 'reconstucted newsreel' for release on the day of the ceremony after he had been refused permission to film in Westminster Abbey. It premiered to considerable acclaim at the Alhambra Theatre in London. although one report complained about the trompe l'oeil sets and the fact that Edward was played by a wash-house attendant from the Parisian suburb of Le Kremlin-Bicêtre. The king himself was reportedly pleased with the four-minute vignette and he would almost certainly have approved of Timothy West's re-enactment of the coronation saga in the ITV series, Edward the Seventh (1975).

Two years later, British cameramen Frank S. Mottershaw and Arnold Muir Wilson travelled to Belgrade to film the coronation of Peter I of Serbia. Running for around 45 minutes, their documentary also included scenes from the king's progress around Serbia, Montenegro, and Dalmatia. It was restored in 1992 and can be found online in sepia and colourised versions. He remained on the throne following the formation of Yugoslavia in 1918, but didn't have a second coronation and none of his successors were ever crowned.

The Science Museum holds colour footage of George V's coronation on 22 June 1911. But the 13-minute record produced by Pathé is in monochrome. Perhaps more spectacular was the record of the Delhi Durbar of 1911, which saw the independent princes of India paying fealty to King George and Queen Mary. Companies including Pathé, Gaumont, and Warwick sent crews to the new Indian capital, with the footage taken by Frank Danvers Yates and Harry C. Raymond being contained in Our King and Emperor from Barker Motion Photography. Clearly Buckingham Palace recognised the importance of such ceremonials in making the monarchy visible throughout the empire and broke new ground by ensuring that the cameras had decent vantage points.

A still from Sissi: The Young Empress (1956)
A still from Sissi: The Young Empress (1956)

Following the death of the long-reigning Franz Josef - who was played by Karlheinz Böhm in Ernst Maruschka's Sissi (1955), Sissi: The Young Empress (1956), and Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress (1957) - his great-nephew, Charles, became the last Hapsburg ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As the nation was fighting the Great War, his coronation as King of Hungary was held without the usual fanfare in Budapest in December 1916. Footage of the event is held by the Imperial War Museum.

The excellent BBC series, Fall of Eagles (1974), showed how the Austrian, German, and Russian empires collapsed following the 1918 Armistice. The Ottoman Empire also disappeared, after Mehmed VI was forced from power following the abolition of the sultinate in 1923. Footage of both his 1918 coronation and subsequent deposition can be found online.

Curiously, for the majority of the European royals attending Charles III's coronation, it will be the first such event they have attended, as the kings and queens of the continent's last remaining monarchies are not crowned. The respective terms used in Belgium and the Netherlands, for example, are 'enthronement' and 'investiture', while none of the Grand Dukes of Luxembourg or the Princes of Liechenstein has ever been formally crowned.

Denmark hasn't had a coronation since Frederick III in 1648, while Oscar II was the last Swedish monarch to be crowned in 1873. Founded in 1905, Norway held an election for its new king and solemnly crowned Haakon VII, who was played by Jesper Christensen in Erik Poppe's account of the 1940 Nazi invasion, The King's Choice (2016). Italy forewent coronations after the Risorgimento of 1861 united the peninsula's various nation states, while King Juan Carlos had an Enthronement Mass after the Spanish monarchy was restored following the death of General Franco in 1975. Oaths were sworn the kings of Bulgaria and Greece before they became republics, although German football coach Otto Rehhagel was given an honorary title after Greece won the 2004 European Championshu, as Christopher André Marks reveals in his entertaining documentary, King Otto (2021).

Pathé's archive contains footage of the coronation of King Ferdinand I of Romania, which took place in a specially constructed cathedral in Alba Iulia in Transylvania in October 1922. He and the British-born Queen Marie (who had turned down a marriage proposal from her cousin, George V) ruled until 1927, when their son, Carol, usurped the throne from his five year-old son, Michael. He was restored and crowned in September 1940, but was removed when the Communists took over in 1947. Regularly in attendance at royal events in London, Michael lived to the age of 96, dying in Switzerland in 2017, with Prince Charles among the mourners at his funeral.

A still from The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)
A still from The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)

The Romanian royal family inspired Terence Rattigan to write The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), which is set against the backdrop of George V's coronation in 1911 and centres on a chance encounter between Charles (Laurence Olivier), the regent of Carpathia, and Elsie Marina (Marilyn Monroe), who is appearing in the West End production of The Coconut Girl. Olivier also directed the 1957 saga, which was chosen as the Royal Command Film and resulted in Monroe meeting Elizabeth II on the red carpet.

February 1926 saw coronation history made in Bangkok. The new Siamese monarch was the son of King Vajiravudh or Rama VI, who was the heir of Rama V, who was known by the princely name of Chulalongkorn. He was the son of King Mongkut or Rama IV, who was played by Rex Harrison in John Cromwell's Anna and the King of Siam (1946), Yul Brynner in Walter Lang's The King and I (1956), and Chow Yun-Fat in Andy Tennant's Anna and the King (1999), which was released the same year that Martin Vidnovic voiced Mongkut in Richard Rich's animated take on The King and I.

Ascending the throne, Prajadhipok became King Rama VII and cameras from the Film Department of the Royal State Railways of Siam were present to record the actual crowning for the first time anywhere in the world. Shot on 35mm nitrate film, the images were released in a 60-minute newsreel and a 15-minute souvenir edition. They were forgotten about until a copy of the latter was presented to the Thai film archive in 1966, while the longer version was found 15 years later among 500 reels held by the State Railway of Thailand.

Prajadhipok abdicated in 1935 and was replaced by his nine year-old German-born nephew. Ananda Mahidol. He became the last King of Siam and the first King of Thailand as King Rama VIII. However, he was murdered in mysterious circumstances in 1946 (what a film that would make) and his American-born brother, Bhumibol Adulyadej, was crowned as King Rama IX during a much-delayed coronation in 1950. By remaining on the throne until 2016, he became the world's third-longest verified reigning monarch behind Louis XIV and Elizabeth II.

What looks like footage of the 1927 coronation procession of Sultan Mohammed V of Morocco has survived, while Pathé lists images of people watching a parade at what is presumed to be the coronation of Albania's King Zog in September 1928. More conclusive is the Gaumont newsreel from two months later showing the coronation progress of Emperor Showa (aka Hirohito), who would remain on the Crysanthemum Throne until 1989. A controversial figure in this country because of Japanese war atrocities, he can be seen in several of the documentaries about the Second World War available from Cinema Paradiso, as well as in Britain Welcomes the Emperor and Empress of Japa (1971), which can be found on The Queen on Tour, Volume 7 in the BFI's Central Office of Information Collection. Having represented Japan at Queen Elizabeth's coronation as a crown prince, Emperor Akihito was enthroned in 1990, only to abdicate in favour of his Oxford-educated son, Naruhito, in 2019.

Crowned Heads (1937-2023)

A still from The King's Speech (2010) With Geoffrey Rush And Colin Firth
A still from The King's Speech (2010) With Geoffrey Rush And Colin Firth

Souvenirs had already gone on sale for the coronation of Edward VIII on 12 May 1937, when the Abdication Crisis broke. As is shown in Tom Hooper's The King's Speech (2010), Edward's love for American divorcée Wallis Simpson prompted him to renounce the throne on 11 Decmber 1936 and George VI was pencilled into the pre-arranged date. Gaumont British News and Movietone News had cameras covering proceedings, while Pathé issued a special edition entitled, The Coronation of King George VI. More notably, The Coronation of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth employed Dufaycolor, with ace cinematographer Jack Cardiff among those recording a coronation in colour for the very first time.

Another famous first in spring 1937 was the presence of television cameras, as the BBC attempted an outside broadcast on an unprecedented scale using a mobile control van. Three of the corporation's six cameras were requisitioned for the occasion, which director Tony Bridgewater positioned around Hyde Park Corner to cover the procession. Frederick Grisewood provided the commentary for an audience of around 10,000.

As a teenage military academy student, Crown Prince Farouk had represented Egypt at George V's funeral. A regular at football matches with the Prince of Wales, he was crowned in July 1937, with Pathé recording the event for posterity. Two years later, the cameras were allowed into the Vatican for the first time for the coronation of Pope Pius XII. The balcony of St Peter's basilica prevented close-ups of the service, but longer lenses were used for the climactic blessing. Popes John XXIII in 1958 and Paul VI in 1963 were also filmed accepting the triple tiara, but their each of their four successors has opted not to be crowned.

Two coronations and one investiture were committed to celluloid in the 1940s. Having been crowned in 1941, King Sihanouk oversaw the transition of Cambodia from French colony to independent state. But he abdicated in favour of King Suramarit in 1955, only to return to the throne in 1993 following the Khmer Rouge genocide and abdicate again in 2004. In 1946, the Emir of the British protectorate of Transjordan was crowned King Abdullah of Jordan and Pathé footage of his coronation can be found online. So can the 1949 investiture of Prince Rainier III of Monaco, who married Hollywood star Grace Kelly in 1956 and was played (opposite Nicole Kidman) by Tim Roth in Olivier Dahan's 2014 biopic, Grace of Monaco.

Princess Margaret represented Britain at the 1948 inauguration of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, who ascended the throne after her mother, Queen Wilhelmina, had abdicated after 58 years. Pathé mistakenly entitled its newsreel, Dutch Coronation, and online footage similarly mislabels the 1951 enthronement of King Baudouin of Belgium, who also had a demitted parent present at the ceremony, as King Leopold III would live for another 32 years after he stepped down.

A still from The Royal Wedding in Colour: HRH Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (1947)
A still from The Royal Wedding in Colour: HRH Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (1947)

As Cinema Paradiso pointed out in Commemorating the Queen on Screen, few monarchs have been portrayed more often on film and television than Elizabeth II. Her coronation documentary, A Queen Is Crowned (1953), was narrated by Laurence Olivier and directed by Castleton Knight, who had also been responsible for recording her marriage to Prince Philip in The Royal Wedding in Colour (1947). In between times, Knight had been entrusted with chronicling the 1948 Olympic Games in London and XIV Olympiad: The Glory of Sport really should be available on disc, alongside Knight's early sound dramas, The Flying Scotsman and The Lady From the Sea (both 1929), as well as such wartime titles as For Freedom (1940), which he co-directed with Maurice Elvey, and The Second Battle of London (1944), which can be rented from Cinema Paradiso on Britain Can Take It: The British Home Front At War (2006)

The BBC placed over 20 cameras at the disposal of Peter Dimmock, who co-ordinated the TV coverage of the coronation on 2 June 1953. This was the first event to unite the nation around television sets, although there was reluctance to allow the ceremonial in Westminster Abbey to be transmitted, in case the cameras compromised the solemnity of the occasion. Knight's crew used British Technicolor stock, but the BBC could only broadcast in black and white, which means the Coronation of King Charles III will be the first to be televised in colour.

Queen Elizabeth was not the first person to be crowned in 1953, however. The minority of Faisal II had ended with his coronation in Baghdad on 2 May. He had come to the throne of Iraq as a boy in 1939, when his father was killed in a car crash. Ghazi was the son of Faisal I, who would be controversially played by Alec Guinness in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962), which was released four years after Faisal had been overthrown in a coup that brought an end to the Iraqi monarchy.

Although the few remaining newsreel companies continued to cover coronations, they were now televisual rather than cinematic events. In July 1967, New Zealand's National Film Unit packaged The Coronation of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of Tonga, which celebrated the accession of the son of the highly popular Queen Salote, who had been cheered by the crowds in London in her open carriage on a June day in 1953 that was so wet that Gene Kelly recalled with pride the London crowds chanting the theme from his hit musical, Singin' in the Rain (1952), which was still in UK cinemas.

On 26 October, after 26 years on the Peacock Throne, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi crowned himself Shah of Iran in the Grand Hall of the Golestan Palace in Tehran. Plentiful colour footage of the lavish ceremony exists online, but the Shah was overthrown during the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Pathé's cameraman had to wait outside on 28 July 1970, as the ceremony to enstool Nana Poku Ware as the new Asanthene of Ghana's Ashanti region was top secret. It's now known, however that the ruler is crowned while crouching over the Sika Dwa Kofi, or Golden Stool, that is so sacred it can never be sat upon.

The Internet is also the place to go for archive images of the coronations of Sultan Hasan Al Bolkiah of Brunei in 1968 and King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan in 1972. But the instant coverage provided by television left cinema clutching at fictional coronations.

King Charles has insisted on slimming down the ceremonial, but it will be more elaborate than the coronation of Lesotho's Letsie III, which he witnessed personally in 1997. Taking place in a sports stadium in Maseru, the centrepiece saw the country's fourth king crowned with a beaded headband containing white and brown feathers. No doubt, the writers of The Crown (2016-) will be taking notes on 6 May for a future episode after The Windsors (2017-) lampooned the entire rigmarole. But the fact that 70 years have passed since the last coronation - as was the case in Thailand when Maha Vajiralongkorn became Rama X during a three-day ritual in 2019 - the curiosity value alone will ensure a bumper audience, albeit in this instance on a global scale.

Crowning Glory

A still from Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
A still from Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

It's back to 1300 BC for the first of Cinema Paradiso's filmic recreations of historical coronations. Having been saved by his cousin Moses (Christian Bale) in battle, Rameses II (Joel Edgerton) ascends the throne of Egypt in Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014). Director Ridley Scott clearly enjoys the spectacle of a coronation, as he had previously shown Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas) and Sibylla (Eva Green) being formally declared King and Queen of Jerusalem in 1186 in Kingdom of Heaven (2005).

As Joseph L. Mankiewicz discovered while filming Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) crowning the Queen of Egypt (Elizabeth Taylor) in Cleopatra (1963), coronation scenes are expensive to stage. They require an ornate chamber filled with extras, imposing pageantry, lavish costumes, and dazzling crown jewels. Consequently, film-makers have either used visual trickery to create the illusion of opulence or found ways to cut corners and done things on the cheap.

Another way, of course, is to animate the scene, as was the case at the end of Disney's The Sword in the Stone (1963), when Merlin plonks the crown back on Wart's head in an empty throne room and reassures him that he has what it takes to become King of Camelot. Compare this hand-drawn simplicity with the way Guy Ritchie handles Charlie Hunnam's crowning to the rousing music of Daniel Pemberton in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017).

Having claimed the throne of Northumbria for himself in 866 after his cousin was killed in a Norse raid, Ælla (Frank Thring) shrugs off the ill omen of the pommel of the sword of office falling off during his coronation in Richard Fleischer's The Vikings (1958). However, he doesn't hear the widowed Queen Enid (Maxine Audley) confide to a priest participating in the ceremonial that she is pregnant with the legitimate heir to the throne.

Michael Fassbinder accepts the crown and a bishop's blessing in the solemn, sombrely Expressionist crowning sequence in Justin Kurzel's adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth (2015). By contrast, William Keighley and Michael Curtiz flood the scene with Technicolor majesty in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), as the coronation of Prince John (Claude Rains) in Nottingham Castle is interrupted by Robin (Errol Flynn) and King Richard (Ian Hunter) disguised as monks.

Moving into the first decade of the 14th century, David Mackenzie's Outlaw King (2018) centres on the efforts of Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) of Scotland to resist the incursions of English kings Edward I (Stephen Dillane) and Edward II (Billy Howle). His plan to be crowned at Scone is thwarted, however, because the Hammer of the Scots had stolen the Stone of Jacob in 1296. This only made its way back north on a permanent basis in 1996 and has had to be borrowed for King Charles's coronation. There are those, however, who insist the real relic is in situ at The Arlington Bar in Glasgow. To discover the story behind the claim, why not order Stone of Destiny (2008), Charles Martin Smith's account of how four Glasgow University students went to London over the Christmas holidays in 1950 and ended a 650-year exile in Arbroath Abbey.

There's more usurpative scheming afoot, as the Duke of Gloucester (Vincent Price) crowns himself Richard III in Roger Corman's Tower of London (1962). James Kent takes us back to the start of the Wars of the Roses in 'The Prince of Power' episode of The White Queen (2013), as Edward IV (Max Irons) plans a grand coronation to silence opposition at court to his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson).

While this acclaimed series drew on three bestselling novels by Philippa Gregory, Orson Welles borrowed from five Shakespeare plays in scripting Chimes At Midnight (1965), in which the coronation of Prince Hal (Keith Baxter) dramatically changes his relationship with Sir John Falstaff (Welles). In David Michôd's The King (2019), Henry V (Timothée Chalamet) strips to the waist to be anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Andrew Havill), in another moodily lit scene that is notable for the absence of a crown.

The debauched youth turned out to be a mighty warrior, as both Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh demonstrated in their 1944 and 1989 versions of Henry V. But the territories won in France during this phase of the Hundred Years' War soon came under attack from the Maid of Orleans. Thanks to her unappreciated courage, the Dauphin was crowned Charles VII in such screen retellings as Victor Fleming's Joan of Arc (1948), Jacques Rivette's Jeanne la Pucelle: The Prisons (1994), Christian Duguay's Joan of Arc, and Luc Besson's The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (both 1999).

Henry VIII (Richard Burton) organised a magnificent coronation to help Anne Boleyn (Geneviève Bujold) win over the country after their marriage in Charles Jarrott's Anne of the Thousand Days (1969). Respective kings Damian Lewis and Eric Bana employ much the same tactic with Natalie Portman in Justin Chadwick's The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), which takes its cues from a novel by Philippa Gregory, and with Claire Foy in the 'Anna Regina' episode of Peter Kosminsky's six-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall (2015).

A still from The Prince and the Pauper (1976)
A still from The Prince and the Pauper (1976)

Remaining in Tudor times, commoner Miles Hendon got to sit in the presence of the monarch in the respective guise of Errol Flynn and Oliver Reed in William Keighley's 1937 and Richard Fleischer's 1977 big-screen takes on Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. On television, Nicholas Lyndhurst doubled up as Tom Canty and Edward VI in Barry Letts's 1976 interpretation, while twins Jonathan and Robert Trimmins took over for Giles Foster's 2000 update.

Anne's daughter was crowned queen on 15 January 1559 and York Minster was used to recreate the event in Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth (1998), which saw Cate Blanchett become the first Best Actress nominee at the Academy Awards to feature in a coronation scene. Twelve years earlier, a 16 year-old had been crowned Tsar of All the Russia's in the Kremlin's Cathedral of the Dormition and Sergei Eisenstein recreated the scene in Ivan the Terrible, Part One (1944), with Nikolai Cherkasov as Ivan IV.

A coronation and an abdication provide the bookends to Mika Kaurismäki's The Girl King (2015) and Rouben Mamoulian's Queen Christina (1933), which respectively starred Malin Buska and Greta Garbo, who fall for lady in waiting Countess Ebba Sparre (Sarah Gadon) and Spanish envoy Antonio Pimentel de Prado (John Gilbert) in very different takes on the Swedish queen's sexuality. At least she got to walk away, as the Austrian princess (Kirsten Dunst) who married Louis XVI of France (Jason Schwartzman) and watched his coronation at Reims Cathedral in 1774 found her options narrowing when discontent spilled over 15 years later in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006). The ultimate beneficiary of the French Revolution was Napoleon Bonaparte, the Corsican soldier seen rising through the ranks in Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927), who would crown himself emperor in Notre-Dame in December 1804. The scene was recreated by Marlon Brando in Henry Koster's Desirée (1954) and Pierre Mondy in Gance's Austerlitz (1960).

The coronation of George III (Corey Mylchreest) and his consort (India Amarteifo) is set to be one of the highlights of Tom Verica's Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (2023). But their son, George (Peter Egan), disgraced himself by locking wife Queen Caroline of Brunswick (Dinah Stabb) out of Westminster Abbey during his coronation in July 1821, as was disclosed in the excellent BBC serial, Prince Regent (1979).

Anna Neagle made the role of Queen Victoria her own in husband Herbert Wilcox's Victoria the Great (1937), which starts with the 19 year-old's coronation on 28 June 1828, and Sixty Glorious Years (1938). However, she's recently been given a run by Emily Blunt, who seeks reassurance from a watching Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) while looking around Westminster Abbey from the throne in Jean-Marc Vallée's The Young Victoria (2009), and Jenna Coleman, who was crowned in the 'Doll 123' episode of Victoria (2016-19).

A glittering coronation sets the tone for the excess to follow in Luchino Visconti's Ludwig (1972), which stars Helmut Berger as the King of Bavaria and sees Romy Schneider reprise her once-hated role as Elisabeth of Austria, a role played so brilliantly by Vicky Krieps in Marie Kreutzer's Corsage (2022), which features Manuel Rubey as her dissolute cousin. Bernardo Bertolucci also went for opulence in the coronation sequence in the Oscar-winning epic, The Last Emperor (1987), which shows the two year-old Puyi clambering off the throne during the 1908 Great Enthronement Ceremony to play with a billowing curtain separating him from his subjects in the Forbidden City. In 1934, however, Puyi (John Lone) underwent a second coronation, as the Japanese puppet ruler of Manchukuo.

Queen Elizabeth would have had fond memories of her grandfather's Silver Jubilee, which was celebrated in a multi-directored snapshot of George V's reign, Royal Cavalcade (1935). Just 18 years later, however, she was the centre of attention and Claire Foy conveyed her mixed emotions in the 'Smoke and Mirrors' episode from Season One of The Crown. Both Charles Sturridge's The Scapegoat (2012) and John Boorman's Queen and Country (2014) used the 1953 Coronation as a backdrop to their storylines. But the best film about 2 June is William Fairchild's John and Julie (1955), which follows young Colin Gibson and Lesley Dudley, as they travel (without telling their parents) from Dorset to London to be part of the big day.

Crowning It All Off

We've looked at historical coronations and how they've been recorded in newsreels and biopics. Now, we come to fictional crownings, although we won't be including Chilean Silvio Caiozzi's Coronation (2000), which is about a bored man living in his grandmother's mansion, or Coronation (2020), artist Ai Weiwei's documentary about China and the Coronavirus pandemic.

Horns blare and monks chant during the coronation in John Huston's adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King (1975), as Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine) looks on at fellow British army sergeant Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) being crowned by the high priest of Kafiristan after he is mistaken for the son promised long ago by Sikander (aka Alexander the Great). A scream disrupts the coronation of Prince Kassim (Damien Thomas) as the Caliph of Charak in the opening sequence of Sam Wanamaker's Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977), as sister Princess Farah (Jane Seymour) realises that his evil stepmother, Zenobia (Margaret Whiting), has put a curse on him as the crown is placed upon his head.

An abduction on the eve of a coronation sparks the action in Anthony Hope's 1894 novel, The Prisoner of Zenda. Cracking screen versions were made in 1922, 1937, and 1952 starring Lewis Stone, Ronald Colman, and Stewart Granger. But the quirks of the UK's DVD release system mean that Cinema Paradiso users will have to resort to Richard Quine's 1979 lampoon, in which London cabby Sydney Frewin has to stand in for the missing Rudolph V of Ruthenia (both played by Peter Sellers). Just for fun, Sellers also played Rudolph IV, who perishes in a ballooning accident.

A still from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) With Anna Popplewell, Georgie Henley, William Moseley And Skandar Keynes
A still from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) With Anna Popplewell, Georgie Henley, William Moseley And Skandar Keynes

Forever eager to supplant Megatron, Starscream arranges his coronation at the new Decepticon leader on the planet Cybertron in Nelson Shin's animated feature, The Transformers: The Movie (1986). However, he hadn't reckoned on Galvatron and his particle-laser cannon. Schoolboy error. Speaking of schoolchildren, the Pevensie siblings are crowned King Peter the Magnificent, Queen Susan the Gentle, King Edmund the Just, and Queen Lucy the Valiant by Aslan at Cair Paravel in Marilyn Fox's BBC adaptation of C.S.Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1988) and in Andrew Adamson's big-screen version, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). Narnia fans will also know that Miraz steals the throne and is crowned in Adamson's The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) and Alex Kirby's Prince Caspian (1989), which is available from Cinema Paradiso in a double bill with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

The throne of Palustan is at stake in Neal Israel's Surf Ninjas (1993). But, having conquered the usurpative Colonel Chi (Leslie Nielsen), Johnny (Ernie Reyes, Jr.) has a coronation surprise up his sleeve. After Rafiki (Robert Guillaume) informs him, 'It is time,' Simba (Matthew Broderick) keeps things simple by roaring from Pride Rock at the end of Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff's The Lion King (1994). However, Disney's classic will get to play a unique part in Charles III's coronation, as a children's choir will sing Elton John and Tim Rice's much-loved tune, 'I Just Can't Wait to Be King'.

There's no mention of the Circle of Life in The 10th Kingdom (2000), the mini-series written by Simon Moore and directed by Herbert Wise and David Carson. However, there are plenty of references to Snow White, as her grandson, Prince Wendell (Daniel Lapaine) of the Fourth Kingdom is turned into a Golden Retriever before his coronation by his wicked stepmother, Christine White (Dianne Wiest). He has to rely on some kids from New York to help his cause. But Elizabeth II (Prunella Scales) must depend on a bungling M17 agent (Rowan Atkinson) to prevent French prison owner Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich) from being crowned as a descendent of Bonnie Prince Charlie in Peter Howitt's spy spoof, Johnny English (2003).

A rousing chorus of Elendil's Oath proves a fitting climax to the coronation of Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) as King Elessar in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). The diadem is placed on the head of the 26th King of Arnor, 35th King of Gondor, and the first High King of the Reunited Kingdom outside Throne Hall by Gandalf. But this wasn't Ian McKellen's first screen coronation. Indeed, he had so enjoyed the ceremony in Richard Loncraine's Richard III (1995) that he watches monochrome newsreel highlights while plotting against the enemies who wish to oust him tout suite.

The crowning of Princess Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi (Anne Hathaway) as the Queen of Genovia is a much happier affair, as she beams while walking through a guard of honour to the strains of the national anthem in Garry Marshall's The Princess Diaries 2 (2004). This was a busy year for crown-related ceremonials, as Ella of Frell (Anne Hathaway) met Prince Charmont of Lamia (Hugh Dancy) at his coronation ball in Tommy O'Haver's Ella Enchanted, while Paige Morgan (Julia Styles) got to witness the passing of the Danish crown from King Haraald (James Fox) to Prince Edvard (Luke Mably) in Martha Coolidge's The Prince & Me.

Legend collides with fact in Kevin Reynolds's Tristan & Isolde (2006), as Marke (Rufus Sewell) is crowned King of Cornwall alongside his wife, Isolde (Sophia Myles), while being unaware of the fact that she is in love with his closest ally, Tristan (James Franco). The coronation is more unconventional in Robert Zemeckis's motion-capture take on Beowulf (2007), however, as King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins) frisbees the crown to Beowulf (Ray Winstone) before his assembled court prior to

plunging to his death from a castle window.

A still from The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016) With Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Chris Hemsworth And Jessica Chastain
A still from The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016) With Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Chris Hemsworth And Jessica Chastain

Not only is Princess Rosalinda María Montoya Fioré (Demi Lovato) crowned Queen of Costa Luna at the end of Alisson Liddi's Disney offering, Princess Protection Program (2009), but she also sings 'Two Worlds Collide'. Two versions of a Grimm classic were released in 2012, with Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror being joined in cinemas by Rupert Sanders's Snow White and the Huntsman. The latter won the day when it came to coronations, however, as Kristen Stewart was bedecked in luxurious robes having seen off the threat of evil stepmother, Charlize Theron. Nevertheless, the ceremony failed to bring peace to the land, as is revealed in Cedric Nicholas-Troyan's The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016), which serves as both a sequel and a prequel.

None of this triptych could match Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee's Frozen (2013) in the popularity stakes, however, with its simple coronation sequence using Old Norse for the bishop's blessing after he bestows the royal tiara on Elsa of Arendelle (Idina Menzel), who hurriedly puts her gloves back on after receiving the orb and sceptre. An unlikely personage places the crown on the brow of Aurora (Elle Fanning), the daughter of King Stefan (Sharlto Copley), in Robert Stromberg's Maleficent (2014), Disney's live-action reworking of 1959 animated classic, Sleeping Beauty. We think you'll know who we mean.

Characters from the other stories assemble for the coronation of Queen Violet of Highhills (Bebe Cave) at the end of the episode entitled 'The Flea' in Matteo Garrone's Tale of Tales (2015). This was another year filled with crowns, as Arthur Curry (aka Aquaman) discovers he's heir to the throne usurped by Prince Orm (aka Ocean Master) in Ethan Spaulding's Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, while Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) has her moment at Westminster Abbey ruined by a chandelier accidentally dropped by Bob, Kevin, and Stuart in Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin's Minions (2015).

Ruthless power seeking also drives Set (Gerard Butler) to slay his brother, Osiris (Bryan Brown), at the coronation of Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) at the start of Alex Proyas's Gods of Egypt (2016). Unfortunately, this racked up five Golden Raspberry nominations. By contrast, Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok (2017), the 17th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series, broke all MCU records in amassing $855 million at the global box-office. Not that this ensures, of course, that the coronation of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) by Odin (Anthony Hopkins) goes according to plan.

The reward for Ryan Coogler's Black Panther was seven Oscar nominations, with the coronation showdown between King T'Challa of Wakanda (Chadwick Boseman) and Jabari tribe leader M'Baku (Winston Duke) going down in cinema history as a classic of its kind. But so is the ceremony staged on a grandiose scale in S.S. Rajamouli's Bahubali 2: The Conclusion (2018), as the newly crowned Bhallaladeva (Rana Daggubati) discovers the popularity with the people of his commander-in-chief, Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas). Anyone who has yet to fall under the spell of Indian cinema should check this out, via Cinema Paradiso.

Staying in the realm of fantasy, we close with two series derived from the novels of George R.R. Martin. In the 'First of His Name' episode from Season Four of Game of Thrones (2011-19), Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) is crowned by the high septon in the Great Hall of the Red Keep. Four seasons later, in 'The Iron Throne', Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) becomes Queen of the North, with a crown fashioned from two howling dire wolves. Meanwhile, in 'The Black Queen', the Season One finale of House of the Dragon (2022-), Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) receives the crown of her father, King Viserys (Paddy Considine), after it had been claimed by her half-brother, Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney). Adding to the poignancy of the ceremony at Dragonstone, is the sight of Daemon (Matt Smith) pledging his loyalty by kneeling at his wife's feet. Smith, of course, had also paid homage to his spouse, as the Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown. Which kind of brings us back to the matter in hand. Whether you watch Saturday's events in a cinema, on a giant outdoor screen, a television, a computer, a tablet, your phone, or a watch, everyone at Cinema Paradiso wishes you a very happy Coronation Day.

A still from House of the Dragon: Series 1 (2022)
A still from House of the Dragon: Series 1 (2022)
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