A scroll for the king, a website for the people: Coronation document to be released digitally

LONDON (AP) — It is a record fit for a king, but it’s going online for everyone to see.

King Charles III gaped at the 70-foot-long (21.4-meter) hand-lettered scroll as it was presented to him earlier this week at Buckingham Palace, thanking the artisans who produced the document that serves as the official record of his coronation almost a year ago.

Known as the Coronation Roll, the document is the latest edition in a tradition that stretches back to the coronation of Edward II in 1308. But for the first time ever, a digital version of Charles’ scroll will be available to view online beginning Friday.

“Thank you very much,’’ Charles told heraldic artist Tim Noad and calligrapher Stephanie Gill, who worked on the project for 56 days straight. “I cannot tell you how grateful I am.”

The scroll, which consists of 56 pages stitched together by hand and contains about 11,600 words, is the first to be printed on paper, rather than vellum, reflecting the king’s views on animal welfare. Vellum, made from animal skins, was long prized for manuscripts because of its texture and durability.

The document gives a detailed description of the coronation ceremony on May 6, 2023, from the procession into Westminster Abbey, to the anointing and crowning of the king, as well as a list of all those who took part and the official guests.

The online presentation includes a video and photos from the event, together with interviews with some of the participants, such as Penny Mordaunt, who as lord president of the Privy Council held the sword of state throughout much of the two-hour ceremony.

The physical scroll will be stored at the National Archives, alongside the 17 historic Coronation Rolls that have survived.

“Originally, they captured who came, what claims they had to perform at the service at the coronation; this is all part of establishing that relationship between the King and the leading subjects,’’ said Sean Cunningham, head of medieval records at the National Archives. “So the new roll is kind of the final version of this, in that it takes elements of those earlier allegiances, oaths and homages and incorporates a kind of narrative story of what happened on the day.”

When the document was unrolled for the king to inspect on Wednesday, Queen Camilla peered at it and said: “Goodness me, I won’t attempt to read it without my specs.”

Charles, who noted that past rolls were written in Latin and French, replied: “At least it’s in English.”