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What Happened During Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation?

The coronation occurred 70 years ago.
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As the world awaits the coronation of King Charles III, we can’t help but reflect on the coronation of the late Queen Elizabeth II, which happened almost 70 years ago. 

Just as the next coronation will, the occasion marked a new era for Britain—and the rest of the world. 

With just weeks to go until we watch King Charles enters Westminster Abbey, let’s take you back to June 2nd, 1953. 

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth and the Duke Of Edinburgh after the coronation. (Credit: Getty)

What Happened On Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation? 

Queen Elizabeth succeeded the throne when her father, King George IV died on 6 February, 1952 but her coronation wasn’t held til the following year, in 1953. 

On the eve of her coronation, Queen Elizabeth made a radio broadcast to the Commonwealth. Pledging her devotion to the people she would serve, the young Queen said: “Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.” 

For the first time in history, the coronation would be broadcast live on television. This was something that the Queen requested, even bending the rules to allow BBC cameras inside Westminster Abbey, and demonstrating that despite deep rooted tradition, she was moving forward with the times. 

en route to abbey
Queen Elizabeth en route to the abbey. (Credit: Getty)

En Route To Westminster Abbey 

Coronations have been held at Westminster Abbey for the last 900 years—and Queen Elizabeth’s was no different. 

Before leaving for the abbey, the Queen was presented with a Coronation Bouquet. The all-white bouquet, which was presented by the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, contained orchids and lilies-of-the-valley from England and Wales, stephanotis from Scotland and carnations from Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

At Buckingham Palace, staff gathered inside the Grand Hall to see the Queen depart for Westminster Abbey. The Queen, alongside the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, were then driven to Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach, which was pulled by eight grey gelding horses: Cunningham, Tovey, Noah, Tedder, Eisenhower, Snow White, Tipperary and McCreery.

On the journey, the Queen wore the State Diadem (a tiara made in 1820 featuring 1,333 diamonds and 169 pearls) and her coronation dress. The white satin dress, which was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell, was embroidered with emblems of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth in gold and silver thread. 

The Duke of Edinburgh wore his full-naval uniform. 

The Queen
The Queen travels through Trafalgar Square on her way to the Abbey. (Credit: Getty)

The Coronation Ceremony 

Queen Elizabeth’s coronation ceremony began at 11.15am and ran for three hours. The service was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury (a duty undertaken since 1066) and for the first time, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland. 

A total number of 8,251 guests attended the ceremony. This was made up of members of the royal household, Commonwealth prime ministers, church leaders, representatives from 129 nations and territories, and many people of public interest. King Charles, who was just four years old at the time, became the first heir to attend the coronation ceremony of his parent. 

coronation train
Queen Elizabeth during the coronation. (Credit: Getty)

The coronation ceremony was split into six parts: the recognition, the oath, the anointing, the investiture, the enthronement and the homage.

During the oath, the Queen pledged to “maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine worship, discipline, and government thereof, as the law established in England.”

The Queen was then presented with the royal regalia during the investiture, including a brand new Colobium Sindonis (a loose linen-lawn garment), the Dalmatic or Supertunica (a gold cloth), the golden spurs (a symbol of chivalry), a jewelled sword, the armills and the golden bracelets of sincerity and wisdom.

To complete this section of the ceremony, the Queen was presented with the orb, the coronation ring, the glove, and finally, the sceptre and St. Edward’s Crown. 

Queen Elizabeth is crowned. (Credit: Getty)

The Procession 

Despite heavy rain on the day, thousands of people lined up to view the procession, which took place after the ceremony. The 7.2km route took it’s participants two hours to complete. 

There were more than 16,000 people taking part in the procession, which included members of the Royal Navy, Army, and RAF, as well as members of the Commonwealth and Empire. The participants marched ten abreast, while those on horse back rode six abreast.

Queen Elizabeth's coronation
The procession begins. (Credit: Getty)

During the procession, the Queen rode in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach while wearing the Imperial State Crown and newly-made Purple Robe of Estate.

Once the Queen arrived back at Buckingham Palace, she was joined by her family on the balcony of  Buckingham Palace to greet the crowds.

The newly crowned Queen Elizabeth is joined by her family on the balcony. (Credit: Getty)

At 9.45pm, she returned to the balcony to turn on the ‘lights of London’. This saw lights cascade down the Mall, across Trafalgar Square and finally to the Tower of London. 

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