It’s been seven decades since the UK witnessed the Coronation of a Monarch. As the final countdown to the crowning of King Charles III gets under way, we look at some of the facts you may – or may not – know about the last Coronation – that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.
The weather didn’t get the memo
The date for The Queen’s coronation, Tuesday 2nd June 1953, was chosen on the advice of meteorologists who said that this date was statistically the most likely to have the best weather. Needless to say, in true British style, it rained.
It made TV trendy
For the first time in history, the ancient ceremony of the coronation was broadcast on television in front of millions of people who bought a television for the first time for the coronation. It was the coronation being televised that led to the boom in the popularity of the television, before that it was seen as “radio’s weaker brother”.
A national hero was against a change in Coronation tradition
Sir Winston Churchill and many other political figures were against the Coronation being broadcast. In the end it was the new Queen herself that decided that the coronation should be televised.
The film footage got first class treatment
In order for Her Late Majesty’s overseas subjects to be able to watch the Coronation, RAF Canberras flew film of the ceremony across the Atlantic Ocean to be broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Queen Elizabeth II was meant to curtsey – but didn’t
In the whole ceremony, Queen Elizabeth II was reported to have only made one minor mistake, which was forgetting to curtsey with her Maids of Honour at the north pillar of Westminster Abbey. Fortunately, the mistake was so minor, no one except the Archbishop of Canterbury noticed and everything ran on as it should have.
A four year old almost stole the show
King Charles was the first Royal heir to have attended his mother’s coronation in history. He was just four years old at the time. Princess Anne was deemed too young to go and was forced to watch the procession at Buckingham Palace. She recalled in an interview that she felt frustrated at not being able to go.
Queen Elizabeth II had a Coronation Bouquet
The Coronation Bouquet was presented to The Queen by the Worshipful Company of Gardeners to take with her on the drive to Westminster Abbey. The all-white bouquet comprised orchids and lilies-of-the-valley from England, stephanotis from Scotland, and carnations from Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, with additional orchids from Wales.
Buckingham Palace gave Queen Elizabeth II a very special send off for her Coronation
Buckingham Palace housemaids, chefs and gardeners gathered inside the Grand Hall at Buckingham Palace to see Queen Elizabeth II leave for Westminster Abbey.
A future First Lady worked on the Coronation
Among the many foreign journalists in London to report on the Coronation was Jacqueline Bouvier (who later became the First Lady of the United States of America, Jackie Kennedy). She was working for the Washington Times-Herald at the time.
There were some rather modern decorations for the Coronation
The principal decorations for the processional route were in The Mall where there were four twin-spanned arches of tubular steel that were illuminated at night. The arches were lifted into place by giant mobile cranes. Linking the arches down the route were the long lines of standards mounted with golden crowns and each hung with four scarlet banners bearing the Royal Monogram.