The Queen’s Coronation In Colour
The Historic Event
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey, an historic location that has hosted more than 1000 years of British history.
The Coronation itself was also steeped in tradition consisting of a complex program of events and rituals that went back to mediaeval times. Tradition demanded that all the detail should be strictly adhered to, with the result that a unique and ancient ceremony would be put on public display, both in Britain and across the world.
In charge of the organisation was the formidable Duke of Norfolk, Bernard Marmaduke Fitzalan-Howard who was determined that the occasion would go without a hitch and meticulously planned all aspects of the day. This included multitudinous details such as the guest list, the attendant military parade, the deployment of the Royal carriages, organisation of the seating at Westminster, the dress of the wedding party, the public display of the fabulous Crown Jewels and arrangements with the media.
Detailed plans were drawn up and major dress rehearsals held, with nothing left to chance. The Duke of Norfolk was determined that errors made in the Coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838 would not be repeated and he demanded total adherence to the schedule.
A major feature of the wedding was the live television broadcast of the day, the first time this had been attempted for a Coronation, and this was done at the insistence of the future Queen, overruling the formidable Winston Churchill in doing so.
After more than a year of planning Coronation Day dawned. On the way to the Abbey guests and officials passed in a long procession before some three million spectators lining the route. The Royal Coaches, including that containing Elizabeth and the Queen Mother proceeded from Buckingham Palace, finally arriving at Westminster Abbey, on schedule at around 11 am.
The glittering Coronation Ceremony was then conducted, with formal use made of the priceless Crown Jewels including the St. Edwards Crown made in 1661. The highlight of the fabulous ceremony followed when the Archbishop of Canterbury placed this crown upon Elizabeth’s head, with those present chanting “God Save the Queen” three times soon after, followed by a 21 gun salute from the Tower of London.
The entire occasion, with all its intricacies and fine detail had gone off without any serious issues, producing an unforgettable occasion that launched a new Elizabethan era for the British Commonwealth.
By: R. Whitaker
Image: The Queen waves from the palace balcony after the Coronation, 1953, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.