Using the coronation to teach about monarchy
Subject Lead - History
This blog has been authored by Benjie Groom and Katie Marl
It’s been almost 70 years since the UK hosted a coronation. If you’re looking for ways to adapt your primary or secondary curriculum, lesson plans, assembly or form-time schedule to incorporate this historic event, read on for some easy-to-implement lesson ideas.
To help your pupils understand the complex concept of ‘monarchy’ and bring it to life, you could adapt your curriculum to include a study of the coronation ceremony, address the ceremony in an assembly or share its history during a form time slot. Your exploration could include its history, symbolism, and religious significance. Pupils could also explore how this coronation is unique to the 21st century.
In order to see real-life worked examples of some of the aspects of monarchy that they have studied, or will study, pupils could explore questions such as:
- Why do we have a monarchy?
- What is a constitutional monarchy?
- Why is King Charles III in line for the throne and how does succession work?
Teaching monarchy to primary school pupils
In the primary phase especially, a royal event provides an opportunity for a rich variety of teaching approaches across EYFS, KS1 and KS2.
Here are three ways you could teach about the monarchy using coronation:
- Examine souvenirs from coronations past and royal events
Help your pupils to develop their understanding of relative chronology by looking at souvenirs from coronations past and royal events. You could use the examples of invitations from previous coronations shared in this article by the BBC and ask your pupils to consider:
What the images suggest about this coronation, and what is important to King Charles III? What is different from the previous coronation invitations? What has changed in society as a whole?
Why not get your pupils to design their own invitation.
- Looking for royal cyphers
Across letterboxes, government buildings and stamps you can find royal cyphers relating to different monarchs. Explore the different cyphers with your pupils, using this helpful article from the Postal Museum as a prompt. Then task your pupils with designing their own cypher.
- The King’s crown
Explore with your classes why a king might wear a crown. Look at these examples from previous kings and queens. Then task your pupils with designing their own crown and justify the choices they make.
Exploring monarchy with secondary school pupils
In the secondary phase, the coronation provides an opportunity to explore a rich variety of insights into both the monarchy and society as a whole. Teachers could explore the iconography, tradition and symbolism of the ceremony. Or alternatively, explore news coverage of the event to share different perspectives and viewpoints.
Here are three ways you could explore the coronation in a secondary setting:
- Language and reporting
Looking at the different perspectives communicated in newspapers and media outlets, to explore the variety of opinions and priorities about the coronation. Your pupils could write their own headlines and highlights from the ceremony in order to practise writing for a particular audience, tone and perspective.
Compare current royal portraits, including the images used on bank notes, to historic portraits of monarchs. What is similar or different about the images? What messages are conveyed through modern portraiture?
- Order of succession
Use this as an opportunity to explore the order of succession within the monarchy. Who is crowned ruler and why? This tangible example of lineage and succession may help pupils to understand the concept within history and English literature.
Studying the monarchy offers a rich and varied foundation for pupils to master other concepts that will increase their access and understanding of your curriculum. In order to look towards and understand events in the near future, we must reflect on events of the past, and the monarchy provides a perfect lens through which to do so.
Our approach to planning a history curriculum
Interested in learning more about how we’d approach incorporating the concept of ‘monarchy’ into a curriculum in a way that is sequenced and coherent? Check our new blog about teaching pupils about monarchy.