Feb 012013
 

Let’s go back 60 years to the dawn of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation Day – 2 June 1953. It’s raining in London, but enthusiastic crowds numbering some three million people are lining the streets.

Their reward is an unforgettable, almost magical vision. Escorted by gleaming guardsmen astride magnificent horses, the Gold State Coach pulls out from Buckingham Palace on its momentous journey to Westminster Abbey.

Deafening cheers erupt across the city. Just a glimpse of the radiant new Queen warms the hearts of those in this joyful throng.

Sir Cecil Beaton’s Coronation portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

An Ancient Ceremony

The full drama of the Coronation unfolds in front of more than 7,000 honoured guests inside the historic Abbey, including prime ministers and heads of state from around the Commonwealth. Thanks to the modern miracle of television, millions of ordinary people are also entranced by the scene.

Rich in religious significance, wonderful pageantry and historic association, the ancient ceremony abounds with splendid tradition. As he has since the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, the Archbishop of Canterbury conducts the age-old proceedings.

Calm and assured, the Queen takes the Coronation Oath, which binds her to serve her people and to maintain the laws of God. During carefully ordered rituals, she accepts the Regalia – Orb, Sceptre, Rod, Ring and other symbols of authority laden with religious and sacral meaning.

Then at last, the high spectacle of Coronation is solemnly enacted. The Archbishop, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, holds St Edward’s Crown aloft and places it on the monarch’s head. Shouts of “God Save The Queen” ring out and a fanfare of trumpets echo throughout the Abbey. Marking the moment outside, a salute of guns is fired at the Tower of London.

Coronation Speech

The procession returns to Buckingham Palace amid deafening cheers. Gathered outside the gates, the ever-enthusiastic crowd enjoys a balcony appearance by the whole Royal Family as a Royal Air Force fly-past thunders overhead. Later there is a spectacular firework display. But many have returned to their firesides now to listen to the Queen’s Coronation speech.

Reflecting on a remarkable day, she expresses gratitude to those who have come to London and to those “spread far and wide” who shared her experience by means of television and radio. As this day draws to its close, I know that my abiding memory of it will be, not only the solemnity and beauty of the ceremony, but the inspiration of your loyalty and affection. I thank you all from a full heart. God bless you all.”

Stunning gold and silver tributes marking Her Majesty’s 60th Anniversary of Coronation from The Perth Mint.
 

What was it like to be in London on Coronation Day?

Find out in this film by Lord Wakehurst, Governor of New South Wales 1937 – 1946, who was present at the Coronation ceremony of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.


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