Little Bits of History

June 2

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 2, 2017

1953: Elizabeth Alexandra Mary is crowned in London. Her father, King George VI had died on February 6, 1952 at which time she ascended to the throne. She was proclaimed queen by privy and executive councils shortly after, but it was unseemly to hold the coronation while the queen was mourning the death of her father. After the required period of mourning, it was possible to hold the festivities beginning with the highly religious ceremony where the 26-year-old was ceremoniously crowned the queen of United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon. It took 14 months to prepare for the one-day event with the first meeting held in April 1952 where the planning could begin.

The Earl Marshal (Bernard Marmaduke Fitzalan-Howard, 16th Duke of Norfolk) had overall responsibility for the ceremony. David Eccles, Minister of Works, was in charge of many of the other preparations, including the route taken and decorations. It was announced in June 1952 the coronation would take place in June 1953. The queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary died on March 24, 1953 and stipulated in her will the coronation take place as scheduled. Norman Harnell was given the task of dressing not only the queen, but the entire royal family. He included embroidered flowers from all the countries of the Commonwealth at the time. Unknown to Elizabeth at the time, he carefully included a four-leaf clover where her left hand would rest throughout the day, hoping to ensure good luck.

The pattern for this coronation event was similar to all those gone before. It was held at Westminster Abbey and involved both the peerage and the clergy. Although steeped in history, there were innovations. The BBC was able to broadcast the event, the first time a coronation was televised. While King George was filmed during his ride from the Abbey, this was the first such extravaganza and it was not just for British subjects, but internationally available, much to the chagrin of some of the Cabinet and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The coronation was not only filmed, but filmed in color as well as normal for the times black-and-white.

The Queen’s passage through the lined streets went smoothly and she processed through the Abbey to reach the place of coronation. Seated on the Chair of Estate, she took the Coronation Oath as administered by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The lengthy ceremony continued and had the crowd shouting “God save the Queen!” three times while St. Edward’s Crown was placed on her head. After the completion of this portion of the day’s event, she processed back out of the Abbey and made her way back to Buckingham Palace via the Gold State Coach and a five mile route. Celebrations were held not only in England, but throughout the realm.

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

The lessons from the peace process are clear; whatever life throws at us, our individual responses will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load.

I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.

My husband has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years, and I owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim. – all from Queen Elizabeth II


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