A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia. This rite may also include the taking of a special vow, acts of homage by the new ruler's subjects, and/or the performance of other ritual deeds of special significance to a given nation. Once a vital ritual in many of the world's monarchies, coronations have changed over time due to a variety of socio-political and religious factors to the point that most modern monarchies have dispensed with them altogether, preferring simpler enthronement, investiture, or benediction ceremonies. However, coronations are still held in the United Kingdom, Tonga and several Asian countries. In common usage, coronation often simply refers to the official investiture or enthronement of the monarch, whether any actual crown is bestowed or not.
In addition to investing the monarch with symbols of state, coronations often involve anointing with holy oil, or chrism as it is often called. Wherever a ruler is anointed in this way, as in Great Britain and Tonga, this ritual takes on an overtly religious significance, following examples found in the Bible. Some other lands use bathing or cleansing rites, the drinking of a sacred beverage, or other religious practices to achieve a comparable effect. Such acts symbolise the granting of divine favour to the monarch within the relevant spiritual-religious paradigm of the country.
In the past, concepts of royalty, coronation and deity were often inexorably linked. In some ancient cultures, rulers were considered to be divine or partially divine: the Egyptian Pharaoh was believed to be the son of Ra, the sun god, while in Japan, the Emperor was believed to be a descendant of Amaterasu, the sun goddess. Rome promulgated the practice of emperor worship; in Medieval Europe, monarchs claimed to have a divine right to rule. Coronations were once a direct visual expression of these alleged connections, but recent centuries have seen the lessening of such beliefs due to increasing secularization and democratization. Thus, coronations (or their religious elements, at least) have often been discarded altogether or altered to reflect the constitutional nature of the states in which they are held. However, some monarchies still choose to retain an overtly religious dimension to their accession rituals. Others have adopted simpler enthronement or inauguration ceremonies, or even no ceremony at all.