Dr George Gross, visiting research fellow in theology at King’s College London and a co-founder of the British Coronations Project with Dr David J Crankshaw, said: “Just because a role was filled at a previous coronation does not mean that it will automatically continue . If a family line has died out altogether, the role might disappear. Other roles have simply passed by the wayside over time.”
He added: “The number of hereditary peers retaining a seat in the House of Lords is much smaller now and it’s a very long time since the last coronation. Some families may simply have forgotten about such claims or may not be certain what their claim is.
“There will be plenty of people convinced they have a claim to a certain role because they were told what might amount to nothing more than a lovely family fable.”
One such role is that of the Champion, retained by The Dymoke family at every coronation to feature the position from 1661 to 1714. The Champion arrived at the coronation banquet on horseback to challenge anyone to contest the right of the new King to reign. The last time this was enacted was in 1821 for George IV.
Dr Gross said: “This was not in fact a hereditary claim, but rested on ownership of the manor of Scrivelsby; it just so happened that Dymokes tenaciously held on to that manor.”
The role was discontinued before being reinstated in 1902 by the Court of Claims.
This time though, no horse was involved or challenge raised. Instead the office holder was made a standard bearer. The same applied in 1953.
In establishing who has a legitimate claim, the Coronation Claims Office is likely to refer to a book first published in 1902 by GW Wollaston called Coronation Claims: Containing a Full Report of all the Cases Argued Before the Court of Claims at the Coronation of King Edward WE YOU.
The book constitutes a “solid basis” for claim adjudication, Dr Gross said, although it does not contextualise the court in relation to the coronation.