Friday, October 3, 2014


The armills are an ancient element of the English coronation regalia, wide velvet-lined bracelets or cuffs of solid gold. Those above were made in 1661 when Charles II was restored to the throne. Far more ancient armills encrusted with medieval jewels had disappeared during Cromwell's usurpation of the 1650s, and had almost certainly been melted down. The new ones, produced in haste, were decorated with some rather slapdash enamel-work. For better or worse, they continued in use for every English coronation up to 1953. Someone then decided that Elizabeth II deserved the newly-made (and in some respects better-made) armills seen below.

Elizabeth is wearing the new-made armills as she waves from the Palace balcony after the elaborate ceremonies were concluded on June 2nd, 1953.

Prince Charles and Princess Anne were little children at that time. Charles appears to be examining the armill in the picuture above. Someone had photographed him inside the Abbey earlier in the day standing between his grandmother and his aunt and doing his best to endure the endless rituals that held the adults enthralled.

In the stand-up portrait of the extended royal family in the aftermath (below) Elizabeth looks relieved and happy, still wearing the new armills.