King Charles' Coronation May Involve History's Most Terrifying Pie

Given that America runs on democracy — in fact, it prides itself on escaping from the monarchy — people's knowledge of coronation ceremonies might be a little rusty. Allow the BBC to remind you that the formal crowning ceremony of King Charles III will be quite an affair. As the 40th monarch to be crowned in Westminster Abbey (William the Conqueror being the first), Charles will be participating in what might seem like a ceremony from a children's fairy tale, with orbs, scepters, a solid gold crown, and even a traditional royal pie. But we'll get to that in a minute.

A coronation, as defined by Britannica, is a ceremony in which regal authority is bestowed upon a sovereign by way of a crown and often other symbols. European coronations take some of their cues from the Old Testament. Charles' coronation is a religious one, which means that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be running the show and, the guest of honor will be anointed with holy oils. He will also receive an extra special bit of bling. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, or so the saying goes, and King Charles' head will be loaded with 5 pounds of solid gold – no wonder that crown is only rolled out for coronations, and normally kept in the Tower of London with the rest of the Crown Jewels.

But what, pray tell, is on the menu for such an important ceremony? The answer will surprise (and possibly scare) you.

Something fishy about this pie

If you thought four and 20 blackbirds sounded bad, what are your thoughts on a pie filled with fanged, carnivorous, parasitic fish? It might sound like something that you'd serve a nefarious character from a Roald Dahl book, but we can assure you that this is still an article about King Charles' coronation. Apparently, the type of dish that is fit to set before a king is closer to Stephen King than Old King Cole – tradition has it that in the Middle Ages, the city of Gloucester in England would show its appreciation for the reigning monarch by sending the royal a pie made of lampreys (via USA Today). English royals have deemed this jawless, eel-like fish a delicacy, which made the rare sea creature a bougie pie-filling choice, according to What's Cooking America.

The city of Gloucester took it upon itself to send a lamprey pie to the sovereign every Christmas until 1836. Perhaps the tradition got too expensive or too terrifying. But USA Today reports that while the lamprey is a protected species in England, in Michigan, "We have lamprey coming out of our ears every spring," says Marc Gaden, deputy executive secretary of the Fishery Commission. Hence, the Yankees sent a batch of the (literal) suckers over to the Brits in 2012 to make a traditional lamprey pie in honor of the Queen's 60th jubilee ... and will happily do it again for King Charles' coronation. How, er, sweet.