Edward VI was only 9 years old when he was crowned King of England on 20 February 1547.
The day before the actual ceremony he was dressed in gem-encrusted white velvet and cape with sable fur and rode through London, allowing his subjects to see him and cheer for him. The royal procession stopped multiple times to see the pageants, choirs, and tableaux arranged for the king by the citizens and guilds of the city, and thus it took more than four hours to make their rounds through the thronged streets.
On the day of his investiture the new king took a barge to Whitehall, where he donned the Parliamentary robes of crimson velvet and ermine fur for his coronation. As Edward walked into Westminster Abbey, the barons of Cinque Ports carried the poles of the canopy that rose above him while the Earl of Shrewbury stood on his right hand and the Bishop of Durham stood at his left. The train of boy’s trailing robe was carried by his uncle the Lord Admiral, as well as the freshly made Marquess of Northampton and Earl of Warwick. Archbishop Cranmer administered the coronation oath, anointed the rather frail-looking and skinny boy with oil, and then crowned him thrice. Cranmer had to first symbolically place St Edward’s crown on the small sovereign’s head, then the imperial crown, and then finally a specially prepared crown that was light enough not to burden the young king too greatly. Once crowned, Edward was given the orb and the scepter, as well as two more relics from St Edward the Confessor, a staff and the saintly king’s spurs. The nine year old monarch then had to patiently wait while the nobility of England filed past one by one, allowing them all to kiss his left cheek.
The little king’s day was not over by half. Now he must be feasted and feted by his court, which went on for hours and involved multiple ritualistic events to signify Edward’s sovereignty and the relative positions of his courtiers. It was late in the evening before the boy was able to lay his weary head in the royal bed.
He wasn’t yet burdened with true kingship, however. His atavistic uncle Edward Seymour, the newly minted Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of the realm, quickly secured letters patent from the young monarch that allowed him to rule in the boy-king’s name.
Somerset would make such a hash of the job that the Privy Council would overthrow him in favor of a better, more evenly distributed regency … but not before Seymour had killed his own brother, Thomas, in order to secure his power. There are, sadly, few people as beloved as power to the right kind of personality. If Edward VI had no been the only source of Somerset’s power, I wonder what would have happened to him? How would Somerset responded to Edward’s assumption of his own rule in the future? Because Edward, a prodigy like his father and a born administrator like his grandfather, was for all intents and purposes running his own kingdom by the time he turned 13 years old.
His sister Elizabeth I would prove herself to be his equal (or even superior) after his early demise, but I cannot help but regret that the young king died before he could make more a mark on history. His potential was phenomenal, and his death was a great loss for England.