Aviva archives show how the insurer covered past coronations

Aviva archives show how the insurer covered past coronations
Early document showing insurance terms for the 1911 coronation, including the cost of covering a collapsed Maypole (Aviva Archives).

Maypoles collapsing, the risk of the Gold State Coach losing a wheel and claims for broken limbs following drunken revelry are all among Aviva's archives of coronation-related cover. 

According to documents from the Aviva archives relate to the crowning of previous UK monarchs, including their
majesties George V in 1911, George VI in 1936 and Elizabeth II in 1953.

Items include a letter dated 14 June 1911, requesting insurance against accident for the Gold State Coach in
coronation celebrations for George V and Mary.

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Proposal form for Coronation celebration liability cover, dating back to 1911. Source: Aviva archives.

The coach - which was built in 1762 - was insured for a sum of £3,000, the equivalent of just over £285,000 today, adjusting for inflation. 

This is the same coach used by King Charles III for his coronation on Saturday May 6.

However, the old letter is careful to state: “Please note that the £3,000 may not be the full value of the old [sic] state coach”.

The Aviva records also include commemorative adverts, photos of celebrations at Aviva offices and proposals for insurance for “coronation celebrations”.

One proposal, which is shown in the main image above, outlines insurance terms for events involving between 250 and 10,000 guests, with “food, drink, fire and explosion risks” covered.

  • The earliest references for Aviva heritage offices being decorated for a coronation come from the 1831 coronation of William IV. The London office of Union Assurance featured “ornamental lamps, prettily arranged”.
  • In 1902, General Accident’s ledger records that the company spent £440 14s 1d on the festivities (equivalent to around £43,721* now) including £60 (£5,949 now) decorating the Perth head office, £130 (£12,889 now) setting up seating at the London office so guests could watch the procession, and £1 and 3 shillings on whisky (around £99 now).
  • Aviva’s archive also includes details of insurance policies for motor cars for the late Queen Elizabeth II - ranging from Daimlers used for official visits, to Land Rovers, private cars and Ford vans used on the royal estates - and golfing and livestock insurance taken out by her father King George VI.

It also cites claim examples from previous events, including “rope of swing fractures” and “maypole in playground collapsed”.

One advert celebrating the late Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation includes pictures of the 12 British monarchs under
whose reigns the company had operated.

A statement from Aviva read: "Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was clearly an exciting event for the company in 1953.

"Directors of Norwich Union, which later became part of Aviva, issued invitations asking guests to join them to watch the royal procession from its offices at 39 St James’s Street, Piccadilly (image five).

"The company also hired televisions so staff members and guests could watch the events."

Anna Stone, Group Archivist for Aviva says: “Aviva’s origins can be traced back to 1696 when William III and Mary II reigned.

"King Charles III is the 14th monarch we have operated under. Our archives house some delightful documents which track how fashions and trends have changed through the years – and also how some things have stayed the same."