The 1st Duke of Wellington’s Coronation Robes

In 2023 we displayed the magnificent robes made for the 1st Duke of Wellington and his two sons for the coronation of George IV in 1821 at Apsley House. As a national hero, Wellington was given the prominent role of Lord High Constable; he took part in the procession to Westminster Abbey, and during the ceremony he was amongst the chain of officials who passed the regalia to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who crowned the king. At the grand banquet, held afterwards in Westminster Hall, Wellington also made an impressive entry on horseback, a spectacle that was greeted with great applause.

The costumes worn at the coronation of George IV were designed in the style of Tudor and early Stuart dress and made of luxurious silks and velvets in crimson, cream and blue. They were a celebration of tradition and a reflection of the king’s extravagant tastes and desire for ostentatious display. As Wellington himself remarked, the effect was a truly magnificent spectacle that delighted the thousands of spectators.

The robes worn by Wellington and his sons recall the splendour and ceremony of previous coronations but they also have contemporary significance. The 1st Duke’s coronation mantle was worn by the 9th Duke of Wellington at the coronation of Charles III. The Duke wore the 200 year old garment for the ceremony in Westminster Abbey, at which he carried Queen Camilla’s crown.