The Coronation of Anne of Denmark, Queen of Scotland

 On the 17 May 1590, James VI of Scotland created fifteen new knights, to celebrate the upcoming coronation of his wife, Anne, as queen.

The coronation was held on the 19th May 1590 in the abbey kirk of Holyrood House. Anne processed through Edinburgh, entering at the West Port, crowds cheering her on, and was given a speech in Latin. Graciously receiving the attention and praise of the people, she headed towards Holyrood with prominent figures of the realm. There were heralds wearing yellow coats that were decorated with an emblem of red lions. The Earl of Angus bore the queen's sword of honour while Lord Hamilton carried the sceptre. The Duke of Lennox and Great Chamblerlain of Scotland bore the queen's crown. 

James was waiting to enter the kirk, wearing a purple robe. A signal from the trumpeters confirmed it was safe to enter, guards first having 'to remove the multitude that was convened'. Knights and barons of principle houses in Scotland entered, then the Magistrates and 'certain other of the principle towns of Scotland'. 

As John Lord Thirlstone entered the kirk carrying the queen's crown, Anne followed, 'clad with her accustomed apparel' with Robert Bowis, ambassador of England and Peter Monck, Admiral. There were also Stenon Braithe and Bredon Ranzou, ambassadors of Denmark, a commentator remarking that the Danishmen wore 'collars set with diamonds about their necks'. 

Studio of Nicholas Hilliard, c1547-1619. Anne of Denmark after 1574.
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection B1974.2.50. Public Domain.

Following the queen and these men were the wife of Robert Bowis (the account doesn't specify her name) and Dame Amiable Countess of Mar. Other women followed, including Margaret Countess of Bothwell, Jeane Countess of Orkney and Isabel Lady Seatown. Jeane Lady Thirlstone the Chancellor's wife was there too, as well as the justice clerk's wife, Margaret Lady Auchnowle. 

As everyone took their seats in the church, the king's minister Mister Patrick Galloway entered the pulpit and recited a prayer, reading out psalm number 45. Galloway then, with Lennox, Hamilton, Bruce and Lindsay went to James to formally ask his permission to continue. He gave the permission and the crowning ceremony began. 

The Countess of Mar stepped forward and took the queen's right arm, moving aside the fabric of her robe. Bruce anointed Anne with the holy oil, on her chest and on her arm. She was then guided into a private area where she put on a 'princely robe' and returned again to her seat. Silence was commanded. She was then crowned, the crown being given first to her husband, who passed it to Lennox, Hamilton and the Chancellor. This was to symbolise the crowning of Anne by the nobility's assent as well as James'. 

The crown was placed on Anne's head, 'firmly knit' and the nobility delivered a speech. 'We, by authority of the king's majesty, with consent of his estates, representing the whole body of the country, place the crown upon your majesty's head; and we deliver this sceptre unto your highness, acknowledging you to be our sovereign queen and lady'. 

The inside of Holyrood today. Greg Willson, Unsplash

Anne touched the Bible with her right hand and declared:  

" I, Anne, by the grace of God, Queen of Scotland, profess, and before God and his angels wholly promise, that during the whole course of my life, so far as I can, shall sincerely worship that same eternal God, according to his will revealed unto us in his holy scriptures... That I shall defend the true religion and worship God, and advance the same, and shall withstand and despise all papistical superstitions, and whatever ceremonies and rites contrary to the will of God: And that I shall further and advance justice and equity, and maintain the same, and shall procure peace to the kirk of God within this kingdom, and to the subjects thereof'. 

Anne asked God to have mercy on her, and, along with trumpets sounding, there were cries of 'God Save the Queen!'. 

The nobles and ministers then ‘bowed their knees and holding up their hands joined together’ made homage and pledged fidelity to Anne. A prayer by Patrick Galloway followed, and the king and queen both then left the kirk, the crown still on Anne's head. 


Liked this? You might also like Frances Howard The Murderous Countess of Somerset, and Louise Kerouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth. 

Never want to miss a post? Subscribe to my newsletter here: 

Source: Papers Relative to the Marriage of King James VI of Scotland, with the Princess Anna of Denmark ad mdlxxxix and the form and manner of her majesty’s coronation at Holyrood house, ad mdxc - General Register Office for Scotland, 1828, Bannatyne Club, Edinburgh