The King’s Procession

June 30, 2022

Louis XVI taking the Coronation Oath.

The queen, from the tribune, followed all the phases of the ceremony. At the moment of the crowning, and throning, touched to the heart by the beauty of the Church Rites, and still more by the popular acclamations, which interrupted the order of them and emphasized the details, she could not control herself, and shed abundant tears. Her emotion was so great that for a moment she was obliged to leave her place. When she reappeared an instant later, her eyes still wet with tears, the king looked at her affectionately, and a visible air of content spread itself over his face. Despite the holiness of the place, the church resounded with cries and clapping of hands. All present were touched, and tears ran from many eyes, which caused those of the queen to flow afresh.

The Crowned King Louis XVI, walking under the covered walkway built for the coronation, on the Western portal of the cathedral of Reims.

Louis XVI had forbidden them to drape the streets along his route, in order, he said, to see and be better seen by his people. On the very day of the coronation, at seven o’clock in the evening, the king, with the queen on his arm, went in his ordinary costume, and without other following than the captain of the guards and a few police officers, to walk in the long wooden gallery which served as passage between the archbishop’s palace and the church. There were many people in the gallery, and a great many without. The king forbade them to drive any one out, or to hinder any one from approaching. The populace, happy and grateful, pressed about the royal couple, from whom they were only separated by a low balustrade. During more than an hour the king and queen remained thus lost in the crowd, responding with great grace to their demonstrations, allowing themselves to be addressed and looked at, and showing to each one marks of kindness. It was the queen who had first suggested this promenade; the public knew it, and thanked her for it by their acclamations.

Music of the Coronation Mass of King Louis XVI by François Giroust

“It is a very astonishing thing, and a fortunate one at the same time,” she [Marie Antoinette] wrote to her mother, “that we should have been so well received two months after the revolt, and despite the dearness of bread, which unfortunately continues. It is a marvellous trait in the French character to allow itself to be so easily carried away by evil suggestions, and to return to the good so quickly. Truly, in seeing these people, who in their misfortune have treated us thus well, we are the more obliged to work for their good. The king seemed to me to be penetrated by this truth. As for me, I know that I shall never forget the day of the coronation during my whole life, if it should last two hundred years. My dear mamma, who is so good, would have shared our happiness.”

The Life of Marie Antoinette; Translated from the French by Maxime de La Rocheterie, Chapter XI, Pg. 129-130.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 835


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