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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Henry Greenway (free 1648)

Alms dish 1660-61

Silver gilt | 8.0 x 94.8 cm (whole object) | RCIN 92012

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This dish, one of the largest of its type in existence, first adorned the high altar of Westminster Abbey for Charles II’s coronation ceremony in 1661. It was almost certainly used at later coronations and since the early eighteenth century it has formed part of the altar plate of the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace. There it witnessed the marriages of George III, George IV, Queen Victoria and King George V. It is still in regular use for major religious events in the Chapel Royal.

The centre of the dish is deeply embossed with a representation of the Last Supper and with the royal arms and crown of Charles II prominently displayed to the right of Christ’s head. Four panels in the outer rim depict The Washing of the Apostles’ Feet, The road to Emmaus, Christ’s Commission to the Apostles and The Coming of the Holy Ghost.