The Queen’s Coronation In Colour – History of the succession to the British throne

A Media-eval Spectacular

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey was one of the great spectacles of the 20th Century, and also one of the most publicised, being the first British Coronation to be filmed and also televised direct. In addition the era of home movies had begun and thousands of people had attended the day armed with their Kodak “cinefilm” cameras, recording their own personal views of the spectacle.

The route to Westminster Abbey was lined with an estimated three million people, and was also attended by many key figures of foreign royalty. Occurring as it did in the period when Britain was slowly climbing out of post World War Two austerity, the Coronation provided a massive boost in popular morale and assisted with a gradual return to a time of optimism and prosperity. The spectacular pageantry of the occasion thrilled the world, as the magic of television took the spectacle around the globe.


Road to the Crown

The Coronation of Elizabeth was the culmination of a long line of succession protocols, a line that had taken a major change in direction with the abdication of King Edward VIII. When this occurred, Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, acceded to the throne setting the stage for Elizabeth to later become Queen. When George died in February 1952, the machinery to crown the new Queen was activated.

Massive preparations for her Coronation began soon after and continued across the next 16 months, involving elaborate planning both on a large scale but also down to the most intricate detail, such as the dress of all the participants and the furniture used in the Abbey during the ceremony.

Several detailed rehearsals were held at Westminster in the weeks leading up to the event.


Filming the Event

In this unique film the rundown to the wedding is tracked all through the planning process until the actual wedding day – and then beyond- combining the official colour film archives of the time with footage from a variety of home movies taken by members of the public. The result is an unforgettable review of one of the most fabulous events of the 20th Century and indeed an important historical occasion – the crowning of a British Monarch.
The climax of the day was the moment when the Archbishop of Canterbury placed the glittering crown upon the new Queen’s head – and the second Elizabethan era had begun for Britain.


By: R. Whitaker