Will King Charles Get a Coronation Medal?

The late Queen Elizabeth had 120,000 medals commissioned for her coronation, but Charles may not get the same treatment.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attends a Service of Thanksgiving to mark the 70th Anniversary of VE Day at Westminster Abbey on May 10, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We're just days away from King Charles' coronation, and with every day that passes by, more and more details on the historic event are released. From the 2,000-strong guest list to the lineup of the Coronation Concert, the three-day celebration is shaping up to be the event of the year—or dare we say decade? 

This will be the first coronation ceremony the U.K. has seen since the late Queen Elizabeth's in 1953, but you can expect it will follow many of the same traditions. Think: a procession through London in a golden coach; glittering crowns, scepters, and orbs; and even a 700-year-old chair (the Coronation Chair has been used in every British coronation since the year 1300, by the way). 

One such custom, however, is still very much up in the air—and that's the coronation medal. In case you didn't know, coronation medals are typically made to commemorate the new monarch and are given to various members of the public. So, will Charles have a coronation medal? Who will it go to? What will it look like?

Will King Charles get a coronation medal?

Short answer: Most likely yes, although it has not been confirmed yet. A spokesperson for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in a statement, "As with other major state occasions, we are considering options for a Coronation medal. More details will be announced in due course." 

However, details about the medal were expected to have been announced by now, per the Daily Mail, but there seems to be a disagreement over the costs. The outlet reported that the medals could cost the British government £35 million, the equivalent of over $46 million, and there may not be enough metal to produce them. 

King Charles is reportedly "furious" over the dispute, especially because the number of medals commissioned may be limited. Sources told the Daily Mail, "He believes that all service personnel who take part in the Coronation should receive a medal for doing so, along the lines of previous celebrations." 

Queen Elizabeth gave about 120,000 medals out to members of the police, fire, emergency services, prison services, and the Armed Forces during her coronation in 1953. Only 10,000 medals are expected to be handed out for Charles' coronation, although that number is disputed. 

Queen Elizabeth's coronation medal

(Image credit: Getty)

What will King Charles' coronation medal look like?

No word yet on what the King Charles' coronation will look like yet, but we can make a few guesses. Queen Elizabeth's coronation medal featured her profile on one side and her royal cypher on the other and it did not include any wording. The medals of King George IV, Queen Victoria, and King Edward VIII all feature the monarchs' portrait, so it's likely Charles' will have the same. 

What's the history of coronation medals?

Coronation medals go way back. According to the National Army Museum, commemorative medals have been made for every British monarch since King Edward VI in 1547. It wasn't until 1603 with the coronation of King James I, however, that medals were given to those at the coronation ceremony. Back then, the number of medals commissioned varied from monarch to monarch, plus they were made in a variety of sizes and metals including gold and silver. 

In the early days of coronation medals, distribution was nothing short of chaotic. At the coronation of King Charles I in 1626, the majority were shared out using a method known as "the King’s Princely Largesse," meaning they were tossed out into the crowds at Westminister Abbey and along the processional route. This caused scrambles among the public, especially during the coronation of King William IV in 1831 and Queen Victoria in 1838. Then in 1897 for her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Victoria opted to issue her commemorative medals immediately after the event, instead of during the service, which is the practice today. 

If you're currently outside the U.K., you can use a VPN like ExpressVPN—which has a 30-day free trial—to watch the coronation live on the BBC, which aired Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.

Brooke Knappenberger
Associate Commerce Editor

Brooke Knappenberger is the Associate Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from fashion and beauty to books and celebrities. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. She has over three years of experience writing on fashion, beauty, and entertainment and her work has appeared on Looper, NickiSwift, The Sun US, and Vox Magazine of Columbia, Missouri. Brooke obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with an emphasis on Magazine Editing and has a minor in Textile and Apparel Management.