Calligraphy and the Coronation

King Charles III looks set to combine tradition within modernity when he is crowned alongside Camilla, the Queen Consort, on Saturday, May 6, 2023.

As President of the Heritage Crafts Association during his time as the Prince of Wales, it’s perhaps unsurprising that master craftspeople have been called upon for various projects in the early days of his reign and in the run-up to the Coronation celebrations.

Here’s how calligraphy and associated elements have been playing their part.

His Majesty the King’s Cypher

coronation cypher

The cypher is the Sovereign’s monogram, consisting of the initials of the monarch’s name, Charles, and title, Rex – Latin for King, alongside a representation of the Crown.

The cypher is the personal property of The King and was selected by His Majesty from a series of designs prepared by The College of Arms.

A Scottish version of the cypher features the Scottish Crown, approved by Lord Lyon King of Arms.

The King’s cypher will appear on government buildings, state documents and on some post boxes. It is used by government departments and by the Royal Household for franking mail.

The decision to replace cyphers will be at the discretion of individual organisations, and the process will be gradual.

The College of Arms, which designed the cyphers, was founded in 1484 and is responsible for creating and maintaining official registers of coats of arms and pedigrees.

The Queen Consort’s cypher was designed by Professor Ewan Clayton, a calligrapher on the Faculty and Academic Board of The Royal Drawing School, in collaboration with Timothy Noad, Herald Painter and Scrivener at The College of Arms.

It features the initials C for Camilla and R for Regina, which is Latin for Queen. It is widely expected that the word ‘consort’ will be dropped from her title after the Coronation.

The cypher will be used by Her Majesty on personal letterheads, cards and gifts.

The Coronation Emblem

coronation emblem

The Coronation Emblem pays tribute to The King’s love of the natural world, depicting the flora of the four nations in the shape of St Edward’s Crown.

Created by the internationally revered British designer Sir Jony Ive KBE and his creative collective, LoveFrom, the emblem symbolises and celebrates the historic beginning of the new Reign.

Sir Jony, formerly the chief design officer at Apple, holds more than 14,000 patents worldwide, uniquely spanning user interface and hardware design.

He was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry in 2003 and holds an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art, where he currently serves as chancellor. 

The Coronation Invitation

coronation invitation

More than 2,000 people have been invited to the Coronation at Westminster Abbey. 

The invitation itself is a work of art, designed by Andrew Jamieson, a heraldic artist and manuscript illuminator.

He is also a Brother of the Art Workers’ Guild, of which The King is an Honorary Member.

The original artwork for the invitation was hand-painted in watercolour and gouache, and the design will be reproduced and printed on recycled card, with gold foil detailing.

Central to the design is the motif of the Green Man, an ancient figure from British folklore, symbolic of spring and rebirth, to celebrate the new reign.

The shape of the Green Man, crowned in natural foliage, is formed of leaves of oak, ivy and hawthorn, and the emblematic flowers of the United Kingdom. 

The British wildflower meadow bordering the invitation features lily of the valley, cornflowers, wild strawberries, dog roses, bluebells, and a sprig of rosemary for remembrance, together with wildlife including a bee, a butterfly, a ladybird, a wren and a robin.

Flowers appear in groupings of three, signifying The King becoming the third monarch of his name. 

Two calligraphers from London Scribes Calligraphers, which has worked with the Royal Household for more than 15 years, wrote the names on the invitations by hand in traditional Italic script with a custom-made ‘New Royal Blue’ gouache ink.

Commemorative Items

coronation fortnum

Fortnum & Mason – a Royal Warrant holder – commissioned three artists to design its Coronation Collection – fine artists Jethro Buck and Lucy Morrish and calligrapher, illuminator, heraldic artist and Scribe to HM Crown Office, Timothy Noad.

Mr Noad created the typography for the range and was also responsible for the crown that adorns many of the products, most notably on the neck label of the English Sparkling Wine.

“I’m very proud to have my work being included in the Coronation Collection,” he said. “And it’s [been] lovely to collaborate with other artists as well.”

The Coronation Edition of the Radio Times features a cover designed by Peter Horridge, a designer, calligrapher, lettering designer, illustrator and artist, who also worked on the Coronation Emblem.

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