Wangaratta aristocrat swaps Great Southern Land with Great Golden Spurs for King’s coronation

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It’s no gee up: An aristocrat from regional Victoria has scored a plum ceremonial role in the May coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey, in London, where he will present the so-called Great Golden Spurs to the new monarch.

Australian Simon Abney-Hastings, who lives in Wangaratta, in northeast Victoria, is the 15th Earl of Loudoun, an ancient Scottish noble title, and a distant relative of the late Queen Elizabeth II and her son, King Charles III.

The 15th Earl of Loudoun, Simon Abney-Hastings, will perform a ceremonial role at the coronation of King Charles III next month.

Abney-Hastings will be the only Australian citizen with an official role at King Charles’ coronation, the 48-year-old’s private secretary and lawyer, Terence Guthridge, said in a statement.

“The Earl of Loudoun is delighted to have been invited to be the Bearer of the Great Golden Spurs at the upcoming coronation of King Charles III,” he said.

The Earls of Loudoun have been the bearers of the Golden Spurs at coronations of monarchs dating back to King Richard I, known as Richard the Lionheart, who ruled England from 1189 to 1199.

More recently they maintained the tradition at the coronations of King George V in 1911 and the Queen’s father, King George VI, in 1953.

The spurs – which symbolise knighthood and denote the sovereign’s role as head of the armed forces – are made of gold, leather and velvet, and each has a diamond-encrusted ruby. They were traditionally attached to the new monarch’s feet at coronation.

The Great Golden Spurs, which Abney-Hastings will bear at King Charles’ coronation next month.

“In medieval times, the Great Golden Spurs were originally fastened on the feet of the new monarch at coronation, but at recent coronations, the Great Golden Spurs have just ceremoniously touched the heels of the monarch, and then placed on the altar,” Guthridge said.

“The spurs were made in 1661 for Charles II and were updated in 1820 for George IV by adding new textiles, buckles and straps.”

The presentation of the spurs is a long-standing tradition at coronations and forms part of the sacred regalia presented to the new monarch which includes a crown, a sceptre with cross, a golden orb and the coronation spoon.

Abney-Hastings’ father, Michael Abney-Hastings, the 14th Earl of Loudoun, came to Australia in the 1960s and became a “jackaroo”, or farm hand, the secretary said.

Neither the earl nor his secretary answered specific questions, but according to reports online, the earl’s father moved from North Yorkshire to New South Wales as a teenager and became a rice farmer and family man. Simon Abney-Hastings was born in 1974 and, as the eldest son, became the 15th Earl of Loudoun when his father died in 2012.

Simon Abney-Hastings, the 15th Earl of Loudoun.Credit: Twitter

But Wangaratta’s aristocrat could have been the one being crowned next month.

Abney-Hastings is a direct descendent of George Plantagenet, brother of Edward IV, who became king of England in 1461, and Richard III, who ruled later, in 1483. Some historians believe Edward was illegitimate – born out of an affair while his father, Richard Duke of York, was fighting in France – and George should have been king as the legitimate eldest son.

In the statement, Abney-Hastings’ secretary acknowledged the claim.

“Leading historians have argued that the Duke of Clarence, George Plantagenet, King Richard’s brother, should have been king, being the legitimate first son of Richard Duke of York,” Guthridge said.

“Therefore, as a direct descendant of George Plantagenet, Simon Abney-Hastings had the right to inherit the throne of England.”

But Abney-Hastings has no intention of staking his claim next month – he is a staunch and loyal supporter of the late Queen and the new King, Guthridge said.

“Indeed, they exchange birthday or Christmas cards each year.”

King Charles III’s coronation will take place on Saturday 6 May 2023, at Westminster Abbey in London.

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