A Brief Look Back At The Queen's 1953 Coronation

·5-min read
queens coronation
Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation: EYNTKFox Photos - Getty Images

With King Charles' coronation steadily approaching on Saturday May 6, the world is increasingly preparing itself to witness the highly-anticipated event on television, as well as finalising street party plans and frantically Googling the coronation procession route. After a seven-decade-long wait, the coronation of the King is expected to be a momentous occasion as he prepares to take the throne as the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on September 8, 2022.

The coronation will mark the beginning of a new era for the monarchy under King Charles' reign (as well as give Britons an added Bank Holiday on Monday, May 8, we might add). The ceremony will take place in Westminster Abbey and will mark the royal's formal crowning, almost eight months after he became King. His coronation will serve as an official commencement for his new role as Head of the State.

queen elizabeth ii wearing the imperial state crown waves at the crowds from the balcony at buckingham palace after elizabeth's coronation 2nd june 1953
Keystone - Getty Images

With Charles' coronation is expected to be a modest affair and incorporate new and old traditions in a bid to reflect the cost-of-living crisis and modern 21st Century monarchy alike, all eyes will be on the new King to see how his coronation compares to that of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

After all, the coronation of his mother was a landmark event; becoming Queen was not only a reflection of the changing times for women following World War II, but also represented a new generation of leadership and a continuation of the monarchy into the 20th Century. Queen Elizabeth II also became the first Queen to be crowned in over 300, with her coronation marking beginning of what would be one of the most influential reigns in royal history.

original caption prince charles and queen elizabeth are shown here at their windsor home
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Ahead of King Charles' coronation, here's a brief back at the Queen's coronation:

When was the Queen’s coronation?

Like her eldest son, the Queen’s accession to the throne came after the death of her father and predecessor, King George VI. Keeping in line with royal tradition, the coronation was delayed by several months (16 months, to be exact) to make place for a mourning time following the King's death.

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her coronation on Tuesday, June 2, 1953, in Westminster Abbey. The historic day marked the beginning of her rule, which ultimately made her the longest-reigning monarch in British history until her passing, aged 96.

queen elizabeth ii on the balcony of buckingham palace after her coronation ceremony with prince charles, princess anne and the prince philip, duke of edinburgh
Fox Photos

What happened during the Queen’s coronation?

During the procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, the 'Queen In Waiting', as she was known before ascending the throne, sat on the Gold State Coach and a horse-drawn carriage, which was followed by a large procession of representatives from around the world.

The ceremony itself was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who administered the coronation oath to Queen Elizabeth II. She then made her solemn vows, promising to uphold the laws and govern the people with justice. After the anointing crowning, various dignitaries and representatives paid homage to the newly appointed Queen, pledging their loyalty and support to her as Monarch.

What did the Queen wear for the coronation?

Designed by British fashion designer, Norman Hartnell, Queen Elizabeth II wore a white satin ceremonial gown, which was embroidered with emblems representing the UK and Commonwealth nations at the time.

The gown also featured intricate embroidery with symbols such as the national flowers of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Atop of this, Her Majesty wore a crimson velvet robe, accompanied by the St. Edward’s golden coronation crown, also worn by previous monarchs.

a picture shows st edwards crown, the crown used in coronations for british monarchs
JACK HILL - Getty Images

How did the Queen’s coronation differ from King George VI's?

King George VI’s coronation was somewhat subdued compared to his daughter’s, due to the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, and the looming threat of World War II. Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, on the other hand, was grandiose and aimed to boost the morale in Britain after the war.

Notable for its large number of attendees, Queen Elizabeth’s coronation was a more international affair, with representatives from various Commonwealth realms and other countries in attendance. In addition to this, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was characterised by the use of modern technology, making her crowning the first to be televise, with approximately 27 million people turning into one of the most high-profile events in British history.

What usually happens during a coronation?

The coronation of British monarchs follows many procedures. Firstly, the recognition, whereby the sovereign is acknowledged by the assembled dignitaries and representatives as the rightful ruler, who is then paid homage by various attendees.

Following this, the new monarch will verbally take an oath to vow to uphold their duties and responsibilities of their office, as well as sign it. After this, the Archbishop of Canterbury anoints the new sovereign with holy oil.

The investiture sees the monarch presented with various regalia that symbolise their royal authority, before they are crowned by the Archbishop with St Edward’s Crown.

Lastly, dignitaries, officials and senior peers pay homage by swearing their allegiance to the newly-crowned monarch, followed by acclamation from the crowd, which display public recognition and acceptance of the king or queen.

the coronation of queen elizabeth in westminster abbey london, 2nd june 1953 the archbishop of canterbury, geoffrey fisher, presents the queen with the sceptre
Topical Press Agency - Getty Images

How will King Charles’ coronation differ to the Queens?

Unlike his mother’s, King Charles’ coronation is set to be a modest affair, reflective of the current cost of living crisis. The hour-long procedure will be drastically shorter than his mother’s three-hour long ceremony. The lucky 2,000 people who make it onto the guestlist can expect to receive an invite void of a standard dress code. Members of the House of Lords have been instructed to wear 'business attire', as opposed to coronation robes and coronets.

On par with this, it's believed King Charles is set to wear his military uniform instead of silk stockings and breeches to avoid looking outdated. Whils changes have been made for the King’s coronation, the ceremony will still include all the standard procedures in line with royal tradition.

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