9th February 1952 ~ Three Queens in Mourning    


A very sad Queen Elizabeth 11 arriving back in London after being told that she was Queen. She and the Duke of Edinburgh were at "Treetops" in Kenya when she was told that she was no longer Princess Elizabeth but the Queen of England.                        


After the sadness of the Queen’s father, King George V1th’s death, the next topic of discussion was, when would the Coronation be?  It must have been a strange experience for the Queen, she was about to be crowned Queen of England and the Commonwealth, the price of which was the death of her beloved father.  From the abdication of King Edward V111 in December 1936, when her father had reluctantly succeeded to the throne, she had known that this would be her destiny, provided that her mother did not give birth to a male heir.  This is why she was called heir presumptive, instead of heir apparent, just to side track a little when the Queen Mother died in March this year, it was revealed that she had had to have a pregnancy test, before her daughter could be proclaimed.  I do not know what the implications would have been if she had given birth to a son, after her daughter had been proclaimed Queen.

It was soon after the death of the King that the date of the coronation was announced it was to be held on the 2nd June 1953 in Westminster Abbey.


The country was gripped by coronation fever, in those days any royal event was marked by a street party, the time of year allowing, but the Coronation was such a big event, it went unsaid that everyone in the land would hold some kind of celebration.  I was nearly fourteen in June 1953, and I was very excited by all these preparations, being nearly fourteen in those days was on a level to being nearly four years old, by today’s standards.

A Coronation Committee was founded and it was decided that we would have our party on the Saturday following the 2nd of June, this would enable those lucky enough to have access to a television set, the opportunity to see it being televised.  The Queen wasn’t keen on having the cameras in the Abbey, however she bowed to public demand and thus it was arranged.  It had been decided that we would have our party in the hall of Wilthorpe School, which was a good idea in respect of the fickle weather, we are so well known for.  There was to be a Coronation Queen with Attendants, who would ride on the back of a lorry, the rest of us, were to have fancy dress, and walk in a procession behind the lorry.

I was dressed as “Miss Wimbledon”, and my brother John was dressed as a coal miner, our little sister who was only two years old was to wear her best dress.  Every Friday night (pay day) someone from the committee would collect a few shillings, this was to pay for the “bun fight”, sorry Coronation tea, and the cost of the hire of the hall and any other incidental expenses.  The youngsters were given a Coronation coin, worth five shillings and the grown ups a commemorative beaker.

June the 2nd came and it was with some dismay that we woke up to the sound of pouring rain, it was one of the most miserable days possible, and unfortunately it was the same in London.  It wasn’t long before our living room became full of family, friends and neighbours, on reflection, I felt sorry for my mum, who did not have a chair to sit on in her own home.

  The Imperial State Crown



She was kept busy making cups of tea too, and I don’t think that she saw much of the actual ceremony.  Because it was such a dull day, the television coverage was very clear, apparently a much better image appeared on the screen if the sun wasn’t shining.  We watched the entire Service in awe, the Queen looked so young and defenceless, I would imagine it would be a very hard hearted person, who could fail to be moved, especially when she was wearing the simple white cotton gown for the anointing.  At this point screens were put around the Queen, the reason being, as part of the Service, she was anointed on the breast, and it wasn’t deemed seemly that this should be observed by the eyes of the world.




There were hundreds of thousands of people lining the route of the procession, and when the newly crowned Queen emerged from the Abbey, the crowd went wild, cheering and clapping.  In one hand she had the orb and in the other the sceptre, the crown itself was very heavy, in fact there were stories that she used to wear it a lot, whilst working at her desk, on the days leading up to the Coronation, so that she could get used to the weight.  It was a wonderful day and a triumph for the BBC, not forgetting the Duke of Norfolk whose task it had been, to arrange every detail of this remarkable event.

The Queen, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, The Queen Mother and the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Queen and her seven maids of honour

Detail of embroidery on The Queen's Coronation dress

Detail of embroidery on The Queen's Coronation dress. Made by Norman Hartnell, the dress featured embroidered floral emblems from all parts of the United Kingdom and the then Commonwealth. These included roses, leeks, thistles, shamrocks, maple leafs, wattle flowers and ferns. The Queen also wore the dress at the openings of Parliament in New Zealand (1954), Australia (1954), Ceylon (1954) and Canada (1957)


The Queeen's Coronation Gown


The following Saturday, dawned warm and sunny a direct contrast to the day of the Coronation, excitement was at fever pitch.  All the children put on their fancy dress, and mustered together on Wilthorpe Green, where the procession was to start, I shall never forget the sight of my brother John walking in front of me, for all the world he looked like a small collier, who had just emerged from the pit.  I must say that his costume suited him, he always had a dirty face and this time it was allowed, we processed to the school hall, and there was a staggering amount of food. Tables groaned with the weight of the sandwiches, jellies and buns, there was lemonade or orange squash to drink.  We had a wonderful time, the evening was for the grown ups and a dance was held, with the aid of someone’s record player, I managed to sneak in for a few minutes, but I was soon spotted by my mum’s eagle eye.  I was despatched home, with the little ones, muttering under my breath, I didn’t really mind, we had had a wonderful day and were tired out.

It was interesting to see how much bedding was blowing on the clothes lines the following morning, hardly surprising, considering the vast quantities of food and drink we had consumed.

                                     music ~ "Majesty"





St Edward's Crown


The Crown


The crown, which was used at the coronations of every king of England since Edward 1, was destroyed in Cromwell’s time. In 1661 a new crown (the crown of St. Edward) had to be made for the coronation of Charles 11, it is alleged that this crown was made from the fragments of the old one.  It is made of gold with an inlay of 444 semi-precious stones, named after St. Edward the Confessor, who was the only King of England to be made a Saint.

On the way to her coronation, Queen the George 1V state diadem, but took it off before the ceremony in which she was crowned with the St. Edward’s crown.  After the ceremony she wore the lighter Imperial State Crown.


The Coronation Chair


The Queen like every monarch since 1308, except Queen Mary 1 was crowned on the Coronation Chair of King Edward 1.  The chair was made to accommodate the Stone of Scone, on which Kings of Scotland were crowned.  The Stone of Scone was captured by Edward in 1296 and was taken to Westminster, the stone was fitted under the seat and is now displayed in Edinburgh Castle.


The Amupule and Spoon


The ampule is a flask of oil, which is used by the Archbishop to anoint the new monarch.  This part of the Service is held in privacy, four Knights of the Garter, hold a cloth of gold this part of the Service, can be seen only, by the Archbishop.  The oil includes the essences of rose, cinnamon, orange and musk.


Orb and Sceptre and the Sword of State.


The orb is a golden globe with a cross on top, which is set with pearls and diamonds, there is an amethyst on the summit.  During the ceremony, the Archbishop instructs the Monarch to use the Sword of State as punishment for evil-doers.


The Ring


The Sovereign’s Ring is known as the Wedding Ring of England, the current ring was made for William 1V. It is set with a cross of rubies and surrounded by sapphires.  Every monarch has used this, apart from Queen Victoria.


The Robes


The cloth is of purple velvet using some twenty yards, it is embroidered with a design which was chosen by Queen Elizabeth 11.