This Month in British History

Written by Foxley 31/05/2016 0 Comment(s) British Heritage, All Categories,

Westminster Abbey Towers. Westminster Abbey Towers

On the 2nd June, 1953, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place at Westminster Abbey in London. Personal accounts of this joyous occasion described how The only problem on the actual day was the typical British weather…it poured with rain!”

Celebration spread like a patriotic fire all over the country, with the streets of towns and cities rejoicing throughout the day, and in London, the roads were adorned with the British people eagerly awaiting the processions taking place.

Embodying the very British ideology of a stiff upper lip, a number of civilians spent the night before on the pavements of Britain, excitedly anticipating this special day.

Queen Coronation. The Queen's carriage

This history making commemoration also marked, for the first time, a monarch’s coronation being broadcast in homes all over the country. This was announced earlier in the year, and naturally, the sales of television sets skyrocketed. The Government took exception to this , questioning whether it would be ‘right and proper’ to broadcast such a solemn occasion. One member of the Cabinet who was amongst those deciding against it was one Winston Churchill, who implored Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to ‘spare herself the strain of the heat and glare of the cameras’. Upon hearing this, she refused to listen, driven by the motivation that ‘nothing must stand between her crowning and the people’s right to participate.’

Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey

And so, on the 2nd June, 1953 at 11 o’clock in the morning, millions gathered in front of their television sets to witness the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Television sets were almost a primitive edition of the sets available today, displaying the ceremony in black and white on a 14 inch screen.

The Queen arrived at the Abbey looking beautifully sophisticated, however all did not go to plan – the carpet in the Abbey had been laid the wrong way, meaning the pile caused somewhat of a problem as it did not allow for Her Majesty’s elegant gown to flow smoothly over it. This meant the metal fringe on the Queen’s gown caught in the pile, clawing her backwards as she attempted to move forwards in the ceremony. In the end, she was quoted as stating “Get me started” to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Queen Coronation. Coronation of the Queen Elizabeth II in 1953

To make matters worse, the holy oil with which Kings and Queens are anointed, the very same oil which had been used in Her Majesty’s father’s coronation, had been destroyed in a raid during The Second World War, and the firm who made it had since gone out of business. Luckily, an elderly relative of the firm had kept a small amount of the original base required, and a new amount was soon created.

Coronation of the Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Coronation of the Queen Elizabeth II in 1953

Amidst all the difficulty, the Queen took to her throne, and St Edward’s Crown was placed upon her head, a moment which lives on in the history books and evoked the whole nation to erupt in celebration.

God save the Queen.’

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