May we admit to being rather obsessed with the idea of what the official anointing oil for the Coronation smells like?
Okay, well we know we’re among fragrant friends, so we’re not alone. and here we’ll be exploring the scents of the Coronation, both ancient and newly inspired…
A few years ago, a fascinating BBC documentary (sadly no longer available to view online) delved behind-the-scenes of the late Queen’s Coronation on June 2, 1953; and it held a scented secret for sharp-eyed fragrance fans… While discussing the ancient rituals of the act of anointing the monarch, our eyes were drawn to the oil itself – rather incongruously kept nestled in a battered old box and bottle of Guerlain‘s Mitsouko!
We’d definitely consider being baptised in Mitsouko, but it turned out it was just the bottle and box. Oh well. No matter, for the story of the oil’s recipe was rather deliciously revealed…
The oil was made from a secret mixture in sesame and olive oil, containing ambergris, civet, orange flowers, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, musk and benzoin– actually sounding rather Ambrée in its composition – and must surely have smelled glorious.
The anointing ritual is usually hidden from view – a private moment for the monarch to reflect on their duties and the significance of being touched by that oil – and so a canopy is held by four Knights of the Garter to shield our gaze. This time, though, while King Charles is anointed beneath the canopy; Queen Consort, Camilla, shall be anointed in full public view. Either way, quite a scent memory.
In fact, the phial containing the original oil had been destroyed in a bombing raid on the Deanery in May 1941. The firm of chemists who’d mixed the last known anointing oil had gone bust, so a new company, Savory and Moore Ltd, was asked by the Surgeon-Apothecary to mix a new supply, based on the ancient recipe, for the late Queen’s Coronation.
We’d quite like them to whip up a batch for us, too.
During the ritual, the highly scented oil is poured from Charles II’s Ampulla (the eagle-shaped vessel shown above) into a 12th-century spoon. Amidst the pomp and pageantry of it all, our minds keep returning to the mysteries of the anointing oil, and whom that bottle and raggedy box once belonged. Whomever they were, we congratulate them on their taste!
Meanwhile, our minds (and noses) turn to more recent royal evocations in fragrant form. Which of these five might you choose to wear for an occasion (or simply to feel extra special any day you fancy)…?
Composed in close collaboration with King Charles, this is a highly personal take on the scent of a beloved silver lime tree in his garden. Using headspace technology to capture the smell of that actual tree (rather than attempting to recreate it), the softly cocooning blossoms glide on a bright, citrus breeze with mimosa and cedar. Refreshing at any time, we feel.
£160 for 100ml eau de parfum penhaligons.com
Experimental Perfume Club Smell Like a King
A brilliant blending of heritage and modernity, think wooden-panelled rooms and freshly rolled cigars glinting with a verdant freshness that radiates herbaceous greenery and mellowed with a husky muskiness that exudes a new confidence. Easy to wear yet stylishly characterful, this could be a signature scent. Hurry, though – it’s a limited edition: so we say, stock up.
From £35 for 8ml eau de parfum experimentalperfumeclub.com
Clive Christian Town & Country (Crown Collection)
Fascinatingly, this was originally created in 1925 and worn by Winston Churchill; now recreated for a modern era, this timeless scent is beautifully composed, with a softness belying the effervescent opening. Velvety clary sage leaves cloak a magnificently smooth grey amber, seamlessly melded with a perfectly grounded sandalwood. Effortlessly engaging.
£400 for 50ml parfum clivechristian.com
Angela Flanders Platinum Rose
The very picture of perfumed elegance, this crisply pleasing rose rests on a dew-flecked, leafy base and was originally crafted for the occasion of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. When a breath of fresh air is required, along with an assuredness that never fails, this is one to bring inner strength and feels like floating on a tenderly blushed breeze.
£85 for 50ml eau de parfum angelaflanders-perfumer.com
Dolce & Gabbana Q
Lovers of modern regally-inspired scents should try this, resplendent with luscious cherry enrobed in creamy heliotrope. Add the fragrant fizz of frothy citrus, the delicate luminescence of jasmine petals and a glimmer of crystal musk amidst the assuredly dry cedarwood base as it warms, and you have a scent fit for any occasion you need to feel in charge of.
From £61 for 30ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com
Written by Suzy Nightingale