When the glittering coronation ofQueen Elizabeth II took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey, she became only the sixth woman in history to ascend to the British throne.
It was the first coronation ever to be televised, and the jubilant occasion almost 70 years ago was watched by 27 million people in the UK, with 11 million tuned in via radio.
Many of those who remember the event describe it as a much-needed celebration which signified a new optimism for Britain’s post-war recovery.
The Queen had ascend ed to the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February the previous year.
The coronation of any new sovereign always takes place many months later, allowing for a period of mourning and for the ceremony to be planned with military precision.
In fact,every aspect of the day was thought down to the smallest of details – including the weather.
As a result, to ensure that the event would be enlivened by bright and sunny weather, meteorologists chose the date of 2 June as it was statistically most likely to have sunny weather.
However, all did not go to plan and the heavens rather typically opened.
The Queen was spared a soaking however, as she and theDuke of Edinburgh made the journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the splendidGold State Coach, which was pulled by eight horses.
That being said, the two-hour journey was not a comfortable one for Her Majesty as the Golden State Carriage was not built for a smooth ride.
“It was horrible – it’s only sprung on leather, not very comfortable,” she remarked.
The procession involved almost 30,000 servicemen and women and thousands of policemen, while more than 2,000 journalists and 500 photographers from 92 nations lined the route.
Elsewhere, many of those who gathered in London to view the procession celebrated throughout the evening.
After the parade, the Queen appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to wave to the crowd outside the gates.
The day finished with a spectacular firework display on Victoria Embankment.
All around Britain and the Commonwealth, thousands of people also threw street parties to mark the coronation.
It is estimated that a quarter of the world took the day off, and here in Britain, the Ministry of Food granted 82 applications for permission to roast oxen – a welcome concession in a country where meat rations were still minimal.
Speaking of her coronation, the Queen said in a BBC documentary that screened in 2018: “It’s the beginning of one’s life really as a sovereign.
“It is sort of a pageant of chivalry and an old-fashioned way of doing things. I’ve seen one coronation and been the recipient in the other, which is pretty remarkable.”
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