Symbolism is another powerful tool in our design arsenal.

It’s something I don’t often use, but now I’m thinking, why not?

I was reminded of its power watching the recent coronation of King Charles III.

This centuries-old ritual brims with symbolism – exemplifying, implying, representing, and personifying ideals for all the world to see.

Yes, some of them are dated perhaps, yet there’s always an injection of individualism through the use of personality and preferences, along with a sense of patriotism and nationhood – let’s not forget this is an event that dates from 1066 with the crowning of William the Conquerer.

So just look at some of the uses of symbolism in the crowning of a King of England:

  • the Gauntlet or glove that’s placed on the right hand to hold the Sovereign’s Sceptre as he’s crowned features symbols of nationhood – the Tudor rose, thistle, shamrock, oak leaves, and acorns
  • the Sovereign’s Orb – covered in jewels is split into three sections denoting the three known continents during England’s medieval period – Africa, Asia and Europe, showing the monarch’s power over the then-known world
  • the Imperial Mantle, replete with embroidered symbols of the British monarch featuring eagles, roses, foliage, crowns, fleur-de-lis, thistles, and shamrocks
  • Charles’s 6.5 metre long, purple Robe of Estate worn as he left Westminster Abbey highlighted a beautiful goldwork embroidery repeat pattern of ears of wheat symbolising peace and plenty
  • Queen Camilla’s gown was embroidered with the names of her two children and five grandchildren
  • Camilla’s gown also featured two gold embroidered terriers representing their two rescue dogs Bluebell and Beth
  • The Robe of Estate worn by Camilla as she left the Abbey featured her cypher, emblems of nationhood, Charles’s favourite flower, delphiniums and a nod to Queen Elizabeth’s love for Lily of the Valley, bees and a beetle and numerous other flowers reflecting their love of nature, imagery that was also used on the Official Invitations
  • Catherine, the Princess of Wales’s gown was also embroidered with symbols of nationhood – symbols that were used on her wedding gown designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen in 2011
  • Listen to my podcast on King Charles III Coronation Embroidery here

Symbolism, in this instance, is on an extremely grand scale, but we can take some of these ideas and fill them with our own personality and meaning.

Why can’t we create our own cypher?  Just look at Game of Thrones embroidery for even more inspiration from the stunning work by Michele Carragher.

Or, why not create a small hand-made book – similar to the manuscript from 1377, created for the Coronation of King Richard II to his first wife, Queen Anne of Bohemia that dictates the order of the rituals and garments used in a Coronation?

Fill it with your cypher, and symbols that show your personality – your favourite flowers, birds, hobbies, talents etc. – include your family history if you wish.

And think of a unifying design aesthetic – Celtic, Zoomorphic, Viking – something that will bring all your ideas together harmoniously.

I think that’s a winning idea – don’t you?


All views and opinions expressed are my own, except where acknowledged information is included from other sources.