An Anointing Screen made primarily from AW Hainsworth cloth, has been designed and produced for use at the most sacred moment of the Coronation, the Anointing of His Majesty The King.
The screen combines traditional and contemporary sustainable embroidery practices to produce a design which speaks to His Majesty The King’s deep affection for the Commonwealth. The screen has been gifted for the occasion by the City of London Corporation and City Livery Companies.
His Majesty The King is a keen advocate and supporter of the preservation of heritage craft skills, and the Anointing Screen project has been a collaboration of these specialists in traditional crafts, from those early in their careers to artisans with many years of experience.
The Anointing takes place before the investiture and crowning of His Majesty. The Dean of Westminster pours holy oil from the Ampulla into the Coronation Spoon, and the Archbishop of Canterbury anoints the Sovereign on the hands, chest and head. It has historically been regarded as a moment between the Sovereign and God, with a screen or canopy in place given the sanctity of the Anointing.
The Anointing Screen was designed by iconographer Aidan Hart and brought to life through both hand and digital embroidery, managed by the Royal School of Needlework. The central design takes the form of a tree which includes 56 representing the 56 member countries of the Commonwealth. The King’s cypher is positioned at the base of the tree, representing the Sovereign as servant of their people. The design has been selected personally by The King and is inspired by the stained-glass Sanctuary Window in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, which was gifted by the Livery Companies to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.
The Anointing Screen is supported by a wooden pole framework, designed and created by Nick Gutfreund of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters. At the top of the wooden poles are mounted two eagles, cast in bronze and gilded in gold leaf, giving the screens a total height of 2.6 metres and width of 2.2 metres. The form of an eagle has longstanding associations with Coronations.
The screen is three-sided, with the open side to face the High Altar in Westminster Abbey. The two sides of the screen feature a much simpler design with maroon fabric and a gold, blue and red cross inspired by the colours and patterning of the Cosmati Pavement at Westminster Abbey where the Anointing will take place.
The individual leaves have been embroidered by staff and students from the Royal School of Needlework, as well as members of the Worshipful Company of Broderers, Drapers and Weavers. The design incorporates more than one million individual stitches. These were hand embroidered onto base fabrics, whichwere woven here in the North of England. The threads used by the Royal School of Needlework are from their famous ‘Wall of Wool’ and existing supplies that have been collated over the years through past projects and donations.
Also forming part of the Commonwealth tree are The King’s Cypher, decorative roses, angels and a scroll, which features the quote from Julian of Norwich (c. 1343-1416): ‘All shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well’. This design has again been inspired by the Sanctuary Window in the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, created for Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. At the top of the screen is the sun, representing God, and birds including the dove of peace, which have all been hand embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.
“The Livery Movement is honoured to be able to provide the screens which will be visible to millions around the world at a key moment in the Coronation ceremony. Livery Companies have a long association with and support for the Crown, and this project is a collaborative effort involving many of the liveries and talented craftspeople. Another important aspect for The Weavers’ Company is that the screen helps to demonstrate that the UK Textile Manufacturing Industry is alive, well and thriving.”James Gaselee from The Weavers’ Company
“The Livery Movement is honoured to be able to provide the screens which will be visible to millions around the world at a key moment in the Coronation ceremony. Livery Companies have a long association with and support for the Crown, and this project is a collaborative effort involving many of the liveries and talented craftspeople. Another important aspect for The Weavers’ Company is that the screen helps to demonstrate that the UK Textile Manufacturing Industry is alive, well and thriving.”
At the Coronation Service, the Anointing Screen will be held by service personnel from Regiments of the Household Division holding the Freedom of the City of London. The three sides of the screen will be borne by a Trooper and Guardsman from each of The Life Guards, Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards, and Welsh Guards.