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When Charles III ascended to the throne as the King of the United Kingdom in May, he participated in a centuries-old tradition brimming with captivating rituals, opulent regalia, and, naturally, a wonderful display of grandeur. The coronation day was not only an occasion of profound significance but also one where history is intricately woven into every aspect, even down to the finest details of the ceremonial furniture.
N.E.J Stevenson had the greatest honour to be a small part of the Coronation when we were asked, in collaboration with the Royal Household, and the Prince’s Foundation, to design and produce the chairs for 100 VIP guests attending the ceremony.
A huge privilege, even if it did pose a bit of a task for the team, as owner and managing director Neil Stevenson, explains.
“We were delighted to be entrusted with this prestigious project. However, the time constraints posed a challenge, as we had very little time to design, manufacture and finish the chairs.
With just 11 weeks at their disposal, N.E.J. Stevenson and the royal household upholsterers worked tirelessly to meet the tight turnaround.
But the deadline was successfully met with time to spare and 100 most special guests in Westminster Abbey had the privilege of sitting in exquisite, brand-new chairs during the coronation ceremony.
To ensure efficient production, N.E.J. Stevenson opted for a simple yet sophisticated design that retained its opulence. Featuring square seats, and sumptuous blue velvet upholstery adorned with meticulously stitched cyphers and webbed on a plywood frame with foam padding, they provided a comfortable place to watch the Coronation.
Astonishingly, the first batch of chair frames was delivered to Windsor on March 21st, followed by subsequent deliveries over the next two weeks. This impressive accomplishment exceeded all expectations, granting the upholsterers ample time to complete their tasks, even with a week to spare.
Neil congratulated his team, “This was an amazing achievement from the staff, who exceeded all expectations in giving the upholsterers as much time as possible to complete the work”.
Adhering to King Charles III’s dedication to sustainability and traditional British craft, the chairs were crafted from sustainable English oak, and finished with hard oil applied by hand. Furthermore, in a heart-warming display of support for budding talent, 10 chairs were created by student furniture makers from the Snowdown School of Furniture at Highgrove.
There now remains an extraordinary opportunity to acquire one of these chairs. Continuing a tradition established in the 20th century, the resplendent furnishings will be auctioned off for charity following the coronation, allowing individuals to own a piece of history while contributing to a worthy cause.