Last updated
King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway with their regalia in 1906 King Haakon VII and Queen Maud.jpg
King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway with their regalia in 1906

Regalia is the set of emblems, symbols, or paraphernalia indicative of royal status, as well as rights, prerogatives and privileges enjoyed by a sovereign, regardless of title. The word originally referred to the elaborate formal dress and accessories of a sovereign, but now it also refers to any type of elaborate formal dress. The word stems from the Latin substantivation of the adjective regalis, "regal", itself from rex, "king". It is sometimes used in the singular, regale. [note 1]


King Oscar II of Sweden, his crown prince Gustaf (V) and grandson Gustaf (VI) Adolf in their crowns and coronets on a state occasion about 1900. Gustaf (V), Oscar II & Gustaf (VI) Adolf open Parliament.jpg
King Oscar II of Sweden, his crown prince Gustaf (V) and grandson Gustaf (VI) Adolf in their crowns and coronets on a state occasion about 1900.
Emperor Pedro II of Brazil wearing elements of the Imperial Regalia. Detail from a 1872 portrait by Pedro Americo. Pedro Americo - D. Pedro II na abertura da Assembleia Geral (cropped).jpg
Emperor Pedro II of Brazil wearing elements of the Imperial Regalia. Detail from a 1872 portrait by Pedro Américo.

In the abstract

The term can refer to the rights, prerogatives, and privileges that are held exclusively by any sovereign, regardless of title (emperor, grand duke, etc.). An example of that is the right to mint coins, and especially coins that bear one's own effigy. In many cases, especially in feudal societies and generally weak states, such rights have in time been eroded by grants to, or usurpations by, lesser vassals.

Royal dress, accessories, and associated pomp

Regalia of the past kings of Bavaria, Residenz Palace treasury, Munich Bav Regaliaaa.jpg
Regalia of the past kings of Bavaria, Residenz Palace treasury, Munich

Some emblems, symbols, or paraphernalia possessed by rulers are a visual representation of imperial, royal, or sovereign status. Some are shared with divinities, either to symbolize a god(ess)'s role as, say, king of the Pantheon (e.g. Brahman's scepter) or to allow mortal royalty to resemble, identify with, or link to, a divinity.

The term "crown jewels" is commonly used to refer to regalia items that are designed to lend luster to occasions such as coronations. They feature some combination of precious materials, artistic merit, and symbolic or historical value. Crown jewels may have been designated at the start of a dynasty, accumulated through many years of tradition, or sent as tangible recognition of legitimacy by some leader such as the pope to an emperor or caliph.

Each culture, even each monarchy and dynasty within one culture, may have its own historical traditions, and some even have a specific name for its regalia, or at least for an important subset, such as:

But some elements occur in many traditions.


Austrian Imperial Crown Weltliche Schatzkammer Wien (265).JPG
Austrian Imperial Crown

Other regal dress and jewelry

Hand-held symbols of power

The Royal Scepter of Boris III of Bulgaria Scepter of Tsar Boris III.jpg
The Royal Scepter of Boris III of Bulgaria
Danish globus cruciger. Part of the Danish Crown Regalia. Denmark globus cruciger.jpg
Danish globus cruciger. Part of the Danish Crown Regalia.
The Holy Crown of Hungary along with other regalia. Crown, Sword and Globus Cruciger of Hungary2.jpg
The Holy Crown of Hungary along with other regalia.
Replicas of the Crown of Boleslaw I the Brave and other regalia. Crown jewels Poland 1.JPG
Replicas of the Crown of Bolesław I the Brave and other regalia.
The Throne, Crown and the Sword of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy, the last King of Kingdom of Kandy in Sri Lanka. The Throne of Kandyan Kings.jpg
The Throne, Crown and the Sword of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy, the last King of Kingdom of Kandy in Sri Lanka.

Other hand-held symbols

Regalia can also stand for other attributes or virtues, i.e. what is expected from the holder.

Thus the Imperial Regalia of Japan (Japanese : 三種の神器, romanized: Sanshu no Jingi, or "Three Sacred Treasures"), also known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan as follows:

Since 690, the presentation of these items to the emperor by the priests at the shrine are a central part of the imperial enthronement ceremony. As this ceremony is not public, the regalia are by tradition only seen by the emperor and certain priests, and no known photographs or drawings exist.

Coronation paraphernalia

Some regalia objects are presented and/or used in the formal ceremony of enthronement/coronation. They can be associated with an office or court sinecure (cfr. archoffices) that enjoys the privilege to carry, present and/or use it at the august occasion, and sometimes on other formal occasions, such as a royal funeral.

Such objects, with or without intrinsic symbolism, can include

Companions' attributes

Apart from the sovereign himself, attributes (especially a crown) can be used for close relatives who are allowed to share in the pomp. For example, in Norway, the queen consort and the crown prince are the only other members of the royal family to possess these attributes and share in the sovereign's royal symbolism.

Reserved color

In the Roman Empire, the color Tyrian purple, produced with an extremely expensive Mediterranean mollusk extract, was in principle reserved for the imperial court. The use of this dye was extended to various dignitaries, such as members of the Roman senate, who wore stripes of Tyrian purple on their white togas, for whom the term purpuratus was coined as a high aulic distinction.

In late imperial China, the color yellow was reserved for the emperor, as it had a multitude of meanings. Yellow was a symbol of gold, and thus wealth and power, and since it was also the color that symbolized the center in Chinese cosmology (the five elements, or wu xing(五行)), it was the perfect way to refer to the emperor, who was always in the center of the universe. Consequently, peasants and noblemen alike were forbidden to wear robes made entirely out of yellow, although they were allowed to use the color sparingly.

Additional display

Copy of University of Olomouc rector's mace Palacky University insignia.jpg
Copy of University of Olomouc rector's mace

Non-royal regalia


In republics, the presidential sash, common especially in Latin American countries but appearing elsewhere in the world as well, has a role similar to that of royal regalia: distinguishing the head of state.

Academic regalia

Academic dress is a traditional form of clothing for academic settings, primarily tertiary (and sometimes secondary) education, worn mainly by those who have been admitted to a university degree (or similar), or hold a status that entitles them to assume them (e.g., undergraduate students at certain old universities). It is also known as academicals and, in the United States, as academic regalia.

Other regalia

Sotho regalia in South Africa Sotho regalia.jpg
Sotho regalia in South Africa

Another example of non-royal regalia is the traditional dress that is worn by Native American peoples in the United States, and First Nations peoples in Canada for ceremonial purposes, such as Pow Wow dancing. [4]

See also


  1. As in the Upper Harz Water Regale, a royal right granted for use of water resources in the Harz mountains of Germany.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crown jewels</span> Objects of metalwork and jewellery in the regalia of a current or former monarchy

Crown jewels are the objects of metalwork and jewellery in the regalia of a current or former monarchy. They are often used for the coronation of a monarch and a few other ceremonial occasions. A monarch may often be shown wearing them in portraits, as they symbolize the power and continuity of the monarchy. Additions to them may be made, but since medieval times the existing items are typically passed down unchanged as they symbolize the continuity of the monarchy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crown</span> Form of headwear, symbolizing the power of a ruler

A crown is a traditional form of head adornment, or hat, worn by monarchs as a symbol of their power and dignity. A crown is often, by extension, a symbol of the monarch's government or items endorsed by it. The word itself is used, particularly in Commonwealth countries, as an abstract name for the monarchy itself, as distinct from the individual who inhabits it. A specific type of crown is employed in heraldry under strict rules. Indeed, some monarchies never had a physical crown, just a heraldic representation, as in the constitutional kingdom of Belgium, where no coronation ever took place; the royal installation is done by a solemn oath in parliament, wearing a military uniform: the King is not acknowledged as by divine right, but assumes the only hereditary public office in the service of the law; so he in turn will swear in all members of "his" federal government.

<i>Kusanagi no Tsurugi</i> Legendary sword of the Imperial Regalia of Japan

Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi is a legendary Japanese sword and one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It was originally called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, but its name was later changed to the more popular Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. In folklore, the sword represents the virtue of valor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom</span> British royal regalia

The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, originally the Crown Jewels of England, are a collection of royal ceremonial objects kept in the Tower of London which include the coronation regalia and vestments worn by British monarchs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coronation of the British monarch</span> Formal investiture and crowning ceremony

The coronation of the monarch of the United Kingdom is a ceremony in which they are formally invested with regalia and crowned at Westminster Abbey. It corresponds to the coronations that formerly took place in other European monarchies, all of which have abandoned coronations in favour of inauguration or enthronement ceremonies. A coronation is a symbolic formality and does not signify the official beginning of the monarch's reign; de jure and de facto their reign commences from the moment the preceding monarch dies, maintaining the legal continuity of the monarchy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Imperial Regalia of Japan</span> Three legendary objects (sword, mirror, and jewel) historically presented to the Emperor of Japan

The Three Sacred Treasures are the imperial regalia of Japan and consist of the sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi (草薙劍), the mirror Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡), and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama (八尺瓊勾玉). They represent the three primary virtues: valour, wisdom, and benevolence. The actual historical status of these legendary treasures is unknown as they are intentionally kept from public view to symbolize authority.

<i>Globus cruciger</i> Christian symbol of authority

The globus cruciger, also known as "the orb and cross", is an orb surmounted by a cross. It has been a Christian symbol of authority since the Middle Ages, used on coins, in iconography, and with a sceptre as royal regalia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Austrian Crown Jewels</span>

The Austrian Crown Jewels are the regalia and vestments worn by the Holy Roman Emperor, and later by the Emperor of Austria, during the coronation ceremony and other state functions. The term refers to the following objects: the crowns, sceptres, orbs, swords, rings, crosses, holy relics and royal robes, as well as several other objects connected with the ceremony. The collection dates from the 10th to the 19th centuries, and it reflects more than a thousand years of European history. It is kept in the Imperial Treasury at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Enthronement</span> Ceremony of inauguration involving a throne

An enthronement is a ceremony of inauguration, involving a person—usually a monarch or religious leader—being formally seated for the first time upon their throne. Enthronements may also feature as part of a larger coronation rite.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Danish Crown Regalia</span>

Danish Crown Regalia are the symbols of the Danish monarchy. They consist of three crowns, a Sceptre, Globus cruciger, the Sword of state and an Ampulla . The Danish Royal Regalia are kept in the treasury at Rosenborg Castle. The oldest of these is Christian III's sword of state from 1551. They further include King Christian IV's diamond; pearl- and gold-embroidered saddles; objects carved from ivory and rock-crystal; lapidary pieces of precious stones, and brooches in the form of fantastic animals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sword of state</span> Sword used as part of the regalia of a monarch

A sword of state is a sword, used as part of the regalia, symbolizing the power of a monarch to use the might of the state against its enemies, and his or her duty to preserve thus right and peace.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor</span> Crowning ceremony of the newly-elected Holy Roman Emperor

The Coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor was a ceremony in which the ruler of Western Europe's then-largest political entity received the Imperial Regalia from the hands of the Pope, symbolizing both the pope's right to crown Christian sovereigns and also the emperor's role as protector of the Roman Catholic Church. The Holy Roman Empresses were crowned as well.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coronation of the Russian monarch</span>

Coronations in Russia involved a highly developed religious ceremony in which the Emperor of Russia was crowned and invested with regalia, then anointed with chrism and formally blessed by the church to commence his reign. Although rulers of Muscovy had been crowned prior to the reign of Ivan III, their coronation rituals assumed overt Byzantine overtones as the result of the influence of Ivan's wife Sophia Paleologue, and the imperial ambitions of his grandson, Ivan IV. The modern coronation, introducing "Western European-style" elements, replaced the previous "crowning" ceremony and was first used for Catherine I in 1724. Since tsarist Russia claimed to be the "Third Rome" and the replacement of Byzantium as the true Christian state, the Russian rite was designed to link its rulers and prerogatives to those of the so-called "Second Rome" (Constantinople).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Enthronement of the Japanese emperor</span> Ceremony of the Imperial House of Japan

The enthronement of the emperor of Japan is an ancient ceremony that marks the accession of a new monarch to the Chrysanthemum Throne, the world's oldest continuous hereditary monarchy. Various ancient imperial regalia are given to the new sovereign during the course of the rite. It is the most important out of the Japanese Imperial Rituals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coronation of Napoleon</span> 1804 French royal event

Napoleon was crowned Emperor of the French on Sunday, December 2, 1804, at Notre-Dame de Paris in Paris. It marked "the instantiation of [the] modern empire" and was a "transparently masterminded piece of modern propaganda".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coronations in Africa</span>

Coronations in Africa are held, or have been held, in or amongst the following countries, regions and peoples:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coronations in Asia</span>

Coronations in Asia in the strict sense are and historically were rare, as only few monarchies, primarily in Western Asia, ever adopted the concept that the placement of a crown symbolised the monarch's investiture. Instead, most monarchies in Asia used a form of acclamation or enthronement ceremony, in which the monarch formally ascends to the throne, and may be presented with certain regalia, and may receive homage from his or her subjects. This article covers both coronations and enthronement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coronations in Europe</span>

Coronations in Europe were previously held in the monarchies of Europe. The United Kingdom is the only monarchy in Europe that still practices coronation. Current European monarchies have either replaced coronations with simpler ceremonies to mark an accession or have never practiced coronations. Most monarchies today only require a simple oath to be taken in the presence of the country's legislature.

The Georgian Crown Jewels were the regalia and vestments worn by the monarchs of Georgia during the coronation ceremony and at other state functions. The last Georgian monarchs, Heraclius II and George XII, had their regalia invested, respectively in 1783 and 1798, from the Russian tsars, their official protectors. Of these royal jewels—a crown, sword, and scepter—only the latter staff survives, in the collection of the Kremlin Armoury in Moscow.


  1. The Royal Regalia at
  2. "Moscow Kremlin Museums: EXHIBITIONS".
  3. Régalia 2011 éd. Imago. (in French)
  4. McCue, Duncan. "First Nations law student gets OK to wear regalia to call to bar in Ontario". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation . Retrieved 15 June 2016.