Archbishop of Canterbury receives the Coronation Bible at Lambeth Palace


The Archbishop of Canterbury today received the specially commissioned King James Bible that will be presented to His Majesty King Charles III during the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey on 6th May.

The Coronation Bible will be presented to The King during the service, who will then place his hand upon the Bible when he takes the Coronation Oath. 

A Bible has been presented to the monarch in this way since the joint Coronation of William III and Mary II in 1689. The earliest specially produced Coronation Bible in the Royal Collection is from the Coronation of George III in 1761; since then a new Bible has been produced for each Coronation.

When the 1953 Coronation Bible was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during her Coronation, it was with the words: “We present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; This is the royal Law; These are the lively Oracles of God.”

Archbishop Justin Welby commissioned Oxford University Press (OUP) to produce the Coronation Bible, which is hand-bound in leather and decorated in gold leaf by London bookbinders Shepherds, Sangorski & Sutcliffe. OUP today announced the publication of the Bible.

The Coronation Bible was brought to Lambeth Palace today by the project team, including the CEO of OUP, Nigel Portwood, and staff from Shepherds, Sangorski & Sutcliffe. The team met with the Archbishop and spoke with him about the production of the Bible, which will be kept at Lambeth Palace until it is taken to Westminster Abbey in preparation for the Coronation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, said: “The Coronation will be a service of Christian worship, deeply rooted in the wisdom we find in Scripture. The Bible which will be presented to His Majesty The King is a reminder that Scripture is not just at the heart of the responsibilities he undertakes at the Coronation, but at the heart of Christian life. On this momentous occasion, the Bible will be the first and most important gift offered to The King. The Scriptures offer a guide and light to all – and I pray that His Majesty will continue to find them in these living words.”

Nigel Portwood, CEO of Oxford University Press, said: “We are honoured that the Archbishop of Canterbury chose OUP to produce the Bible for His Majesty's Coronation. This Bible is an example of the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail of the Press and our colleagues at Shepherds, Sangorski & Sutcliffe, and CPI Printers. We are confident that it will be a fitting tribute to a momentous occasion in British history and we hope it will be cherished by His Majesty for many years to come.”


Background information:

Four copies of the Coronation Bible have been made. Following the Coronation, the Bible used in the service will be kept in the Lambeth Palace Library. Three identical copies have been produced: one will be given to The King as a personal copy, and the other two will be placed in the archives of Westminster Abbey and Oxford University Press respectively.

The Coronation Bible features typesetting based on the Quatercentenary Edition of the King James Authorized Version, published by OUP to mark the 400th anniversary in 2011.

After the Coronation, the Bible will be shown in the current Lambeth Palace Library exhibition to mark The King’s Coronation, showcasing religious items that have been used in Royal Coronation ceremonies going back to the Middle Ages. The exhibition runs until 13th July 2023, find out more here >>

Read the Oxford University Press news release here >>

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