Breaking News
More () »

King Charles goes historic for his coronation outfit to promote sustainability

The coronation outfit weighs about 13 pounds, and many pieces are nearly 100 years old;

WASHINGTON — Fashion is a big part of being a royal, and there's no bigger occasion than one's own coronation. So when King Charles III is crowned as the monarch of England, his attire matters. 

Charles has had a lot of time to think about what he'll wear to the big day: He was four when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, took the crown, and his mother's reign lasted for 70 years. 

And as befitting royalty, Charles' outfit will be intricate and historic. 

Entering with Style

Charles will enter Westminster Abbey wearing a crimson velvet robe, complete with gold lace. Called the Robe of State, it's a match to the one Queen Camilla, his wife, will be wearing. 

But rather than have a new robe designed for himself, Charles is planning to use the Robe of State his grandfather, King George VI, wore during his coronation in 1937. 

Because of its age, the velvet is being restored by the Royal School of Needlework, with the lining and gold lace conserved by robemakers at robemakers  Ede and Ravenscroft.

Credit: Buckingham Palace
The Robe of State will be worn by King Charles III as he enters Westminster Abbey for his coronation.

Once he arrives for the coronation, Charles will slip out of the Robe of State and don his royal vestments, a set of symbolic clothing associated with virtues of leadership and knighthood. 

The crown jewels of the ensemble, so to speak, are a pair of intricate pieces: a shirt and robe designed to wrap the new monarch in gold.

The Shirt

The first is the undershirt. According to Buckingham Palace, the Colobium Sindonis — as it's officially called — was used to crown previous royals, including his grandfather, King George VI in 1937 and his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953. 

The Sindonis is donned after Charles is anointed with oil as part of the ceremony. It's a white linen tunic with a plain collar, fastened with a single button. The tunic is intended to mimic a priest's alb, which is worn by the newly baptized. 

The Robe

Worn over the top is a robe called the Supertunica. The robe is woven from cloth and gold, and embroidered with intricate designs of leafy stems and branches. The robe is another nod to a priest's garments, and evokes the concept of a life dedicated to service. It's fastened with the Coronation Sword Belt. 

Credit: Buckingham Palace
The Supertunica is a gold coat worn under the Imperial Mantle, secured by the Coronation Sword Belt.

The Sword Belt

Also known as the Girdle, the sword belt is a gold cloth accessory adorned with embroidery of geometric designs and scrolls, lined with dark red silk. A gold buckle at the front is stamped with the national emblems of the British isles: roses for England, thistles for Scotland and shamrocks for Ireland. 

Traditionally, a new Sword Belt is created for each coronation by the Worshipful Company of Girdlers. But Charles has chosen instead to eschew tradition to include a bit of extra history in his ceremony. He will reuse the Girdle made for his grandfather.

But no sword belt would be complete without a sword to go with it. 

Credit: Buckingham Palace
The Sword Belt and Gauntlet are worn by a new monarch during their coronation ceremony.

The Sword

Attached to the Girdle by a gold clip will be the Jeweled Sword of Offering. The sword has a long, needle-like blade and a handle covered in gems and precious metals. While it's only one of the items that will be presented to the new king, it is the only one he will wear on his body. 

The sword will be presented to Charles with a mandate saying that it should "be used for the protection of good and the punishment of evil," according to Buckingham Palace. 

The Glove

On Charles' right hand, he'll be wearing a white leather glove. Called the Coronation Glove or Gauntlet, it's another item from Charles' grandfather's coronation in 1937. On the top of the glove sits a stitched royal crest, the ducal coronet, in red velvet and the coat of arms for the family of the Dukes of Newcastle. The Gauntlet's wrist is embroidered with gilt metal thread, wire and decorative pieces including shamrocks, roses, thistle, oak leaves and acorns. 

The Royal Mantle

Finally, atop the flashy golden outfit, Charles will wear one final piece of clothing. The Imperial Mantle is a six-pound cloak fastened across the chest with a golden eagle clasp. 

The mantle is meant to symbolize the divine nature of being king and, fittingly, is made of more golden cloth. It's embellished with fleur-de-lis patterns, imperial eagles and other national symbols.

Credit: Buckingham Palace
The Imperial Mantle is the heaviest garment King Charles will wear, at over 6 lbs.

A Flashy Exit

After the ceremony is over, newly anointed King Charles III will don the Robes of Estate, a large garment made of purple silk velvet, embroidered in gold. Traditionally, this robe is more personalized than the Robes of State, but Charles has again opted for a tribute piece. The robe he will leave in was worn by King George VI during his 1937 coronation. 

But like the other historic pieces being worn during the coronation, it is undergoing restoration and conservation efforts ahead of its day in the spotlight. 

Pieces of History

In total, the royal clothing weighs about 13 lbs. That heavy weight, both symbolically and literally, will be carried by the king's 9-year-old grandson, Prince George, who is serving as a Page during the ceremony, according to People

George will help carry the vestments through Westminster Abbey behind his grandfather after they are used for the ceremony, as Charles takes the throne to receive the crown. The 4-year-old is making history himself with the job, as it's the first time somebody in line for the throne has taken part in a coronation ceremony. Prince George is second in line to rule after his father, Prince William. 

According to Buckingham Palace, Charles plans to reuse so many of the historic pieces in the interest of sustainability and efficiency. 

"We've got this wonderful, sustainable, eco-friendly king who's reusing something rather than having a new glove," Deborah Moore, CEO of Dents Glovemakers, said in an interview with CBS News.

What will other royals wear? What will Kate wear to the coronation?

But while Charles' outfit is already picked, there is plenty of speculation about what the rest of the royal family will wear. Of particular note is Prince Harry, and the question of whether he will be allowed to wear his military uniform despite not being an active member of the royal family. 

Many people will also be on the lookout to see what Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, wears for her ensemble. According to reports, Kate's outfit is expected to have a "modernized" look and "set her apart from the crowd." 

Before You Leave, Check This Out