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Investiture, from the Latin (preposition in and verb vestire, "dress" from vestis "robe"), is the formal installation of an incumbent. Investiture can include formal dress and adornment such as robes of state or headdress, or other regalia such as a throne or seat of office. An investiture is also often part of a coronation rite or enthronement. It was prevalent in the Middle Ages.
Investiture is the installation of individuals in institutions that usually have been extant from feudal times. For example, the installation of heads of state and various other state functions with ceremonial roles are invested with office. Usually the investiture involves ceremonial transfer of the symbols of the particular office.
Judges in many countries, including justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, are invested with their office. American justices typically take two oaths: one to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and the other to apply justice equally. Likewise, university presidents, rectors and chancellors are invested with office.
In the United Kingdom, around 2,600 people are invested personally by Queen Elizabeth II or another member of the royal family each year. A list of those to be honoured is published twice a year, in either the New Year Honours or the Birthday Honours. Approximately 25 investitures are held annually: most in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace, although the Waterloo Chamber in Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, are also used. In 2014 The Prince of Wales held an investiture at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. Investitures are also held in other Commonwealth realms, when the Governor-General acts on behalf of the Queen.
The poem "The Investiture" by Siegfried Sassoon is about a young man who was killed in battle during World War I.
- Coronation and anointing, equivalent terms for the assumption of royal office
- Enthronement, an equivalent term used for royal and episcopal office
- Investiture controversy of Middle Ages
- Consecration of a bishop or of a church