Friday, 1 June 2012

Memories of a Coronation

The Fabulous Coronation Coach
Oh dear, how typical in this country that the weather forecast for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations is cool and showery.  Exactly the same as on Coronation Day (3rd July 1953).  Then people camped out along the route for several days beforehand - the weather didn't put them off.

In the early 1950s only people who could afford it had television.  When it was announced that the Coronation would be televised sales rocketed.  Our next door neighbours bought one and on Coronation Day the room was filled with people on chairs of all types - a case of bring your own.  We children sat on the floor in front of the grown ups.

The set?  It was a small square screen in a large wooden cabinet.  It wouldn't have been possible to see the picture without the huge square glass bubble over it - the magnifier.

Until now the only moving pictures of the Royal Family that most of us had seen were Newsreels at the cinema.  A few of us had been lucky enough to see King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) when they had either visited our town or driven through en route to another destination.

On Coronation Day we settled down to watch the most momentous post-war occasion in our lives.  The Crowning of our Queen, a beautiful young woman married to a handsome prince.

And it was the first time us children had ever seen the great Coronation Coach - albeit in black and white.  As it drew out of the Buckingham Palace forecourt and we got a glimpse of Her Majesty wearing a gorgeous diadem a shiver ran down my spine.

The cavalcade of carriages carrying royalty, presidents and other high ranking personages from around the world was interspersed with soldiers, sailors and airmen from the Commonwealth (as it was to become known) and, of course, there were mounted soldiers and bands.

Watching the Crowning was breathtaking.  And, of course, The Queen wore a crown for the long, slow return journey to Buckingham Palace.  It wasn't the one that she had been crowned with - the 1661 St. Edward's Crown which weights 2.23 kg. - but the lighter Imperial State Crown.

Apart from the Coronation Coach probably the most memorable one was the open Landau carrying the stately Queen Salote of Tonga and a smaller gentleman.  It didn't matter that it was raining, Queen Salote had a ball waving to the crowds, pointing to various placards held by members of the crowd and laughing.  A very jolly lady.  What an ambassador for her Country.  One that, until that time, very few of us had even heard of!

The Coronation, was well as being the epitome of British Pageantry was also a great learning experience.  Not just for the Service but also it brought the world to London and taught us children that there is a lot more than Europe out there to be visited.

Maybe that was the basis of my desire to travel!

I did once make it to Buckingham Palace for a Balcony Scene.  It was the 50th Anniversary of VE Day (9th May 1995).  I was at the railings by 6.00 a.m. and later saw Their Majesties, Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and HRH the Princess Margaret on the balcony.  And they joined in the sing-song being led by Dame Vera Lynn, Sir Harry Secombe, Sir Cliff Richard and introduced by Bob Holness.  It was a morning that I will cherish all my life.  

HM The Queen during a visit to Croydon, Surrey
I do have an article about the Royal Carriages on

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