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British RoyalsHistory

The first monarch to speak to his people on the radio after his Coronation

While there are reports of changes ahead of King Charles III’s Coronation in May, each Coronation has had its own changes. King George VI was the first monarch to give a Coronation speech to be broadcast over the radio on the day of his Coronation. 

King George V gave the first royal radio broadcast on 23 April 1924 when he opened the British Empire Exhibition. In addition to being the first royal radio broadcast, it is the oldest surviving radio broadcast. 

His son, George VI, would make several radio broadcasts throughout his reign, including addressing the Empire on Christmas Day and VE Day in 1945. Incorrectly, many sources cite his 3 September 1939 speech as his first broadcast. 

The 1937 Coronation was the first to be broadcast via radio; 28 separate microphones were placed in different places in Westminster Abbey to best capture all speech and music from the ceremony. However, it was also the first Coronation where the monarch could directly speak to all of their subjects. 

In his speech, The King shared his amazement at the technology that allowed him to reach everyone. He said: 

Never before has a newly crowned king been able to talk to all of his people in their own homes on the day of his Coronation. Never has the ceremony had a wider significance, for the Dominions are now free and equal partners with this ancient kingdom.”

George highlighted in his speech the responsibility that he felt in assuming the role of monarch, as well as speaking on his experience at the Abbey. He explained: 

To many millions, The Crown is a symbol of unity. By the grace of God and by the will of the free peoples of the British Commonwealth, I have assumed that crown. In me, as your king, is vested for a time of the duties of maintaining the honour of integrity. This is indeed a grave and constant responsibility, but it gave me confidence to see your representatives around me in the Abbey and to know that you, too, are enabled to join in that infinitely beautiful ceremony.”

The 1937 Coronation was also the first to be recorded on film, but the film was not broadcasted. 

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