Prayers for Queen to mark coronation anniversary

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (PA Archive)
2:45am, Tue 02 Jun 2020
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Prayers will be said for the Queen to mark the 67th anniversary of the day she was crowned.

Elizabeth II was just 27 years old and 16 months into her role as sovereign when the coronation took place, serving as a morale boost for a nation starved of pageantry following the Second World War.

The religious ceremony was staged on June 2 1953 in the historic surrounds of Westminster Abbey and was celebrated with street parties across the country.

Bells at the Abbey in central London are usually rung to mark the anniversary, but this year will stay silent during the church’s closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Resident clergy will say prayers on Tuesday for the Queen and the royal family instead, the Abbey said.

The monarch, 94, will be at Windsor Castle, where she has been staying during the outbreak.

The day of the coronation saw the nation host celebrations despite the hardship of post-war rationing, and even the atrocious, unseasonal weather could not dampen the festivities.

People began to bed down in the streets of London two days before the big event.

Despite the pouring rain and driving wind, the evening before, half a million people were already lining the procession route.

The coronation was shared with a wider audience through the relatively new medium of television.

Despite initial reservations, the Queen eventually agreed to allow TV cameras to be present inside the Abbey to capture the historic event.

An estimated 27 million people in Britain alone watched the coronation live on their, or their neighbours’, black and white televisions.

The uncrowned Queen Elizabeth II – she actually wore the George IV Diadem on her journey there – set out from Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach.

Some 65 years later in a BBC documentary about the day, the Queen recalled how the journey had been “horrible”.

“It’s only sprung on leather,” she said of the coach, adding: “Not very comfortable.”

She also told many years later how she had a problem getting started in her lengthy coronation robe.

“I remember one moment when I was going against the pile of the carpet and I couldn’t move at all,” she remarked.

Her coronation dress, by couturier Norman Hartnell, was a white satin gown, encrusted with diamonds, gold and silver bullion, seed pearls, crystals, pale amethysts and sequins to create a shimmering effect.

Embroidery in pastel-coloured silks depicted the emblems of the United Kingdom and countries of the Commonwealth.

Since the coronation, the Queen has worn the gown six times including the opening of parliament in New Zealand and Australia in 1954.

The three-hour service took place in front of a congregation of more than 8,000 people.

The Queen took the coronation oath, was anointed and received the regalia including the orb, coronation ring, the glove and the sceptre, before being crowned with the majestic St Edward’s Crown.

The crown, which dates from 1661, weighs 4lbs and 12oz and is made from solid gold.

The Duke of Edinburgh swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb” and was the first layman to pay tender homage to the newly crowned monarch.

Prince Charles watched in the Abbey seated between his widowed grandmother, the Queen Mother, and his aunt, Princess Margaret, but two-year-old Princess Anne was considered too young to attend.

The two-hour procession back to Buckingham Palace was designed so as many people as possible could see the monarch.

The Queen changed into a robe of purple velvet and put on the lighter Imperial State Crown before she left the Abbey.

She appeared on the balcony with Philip and other members of the royal family including Charles and Anne to wave at the crowds.

In her broadcast address to the nation the same evening, the young Queen thanked the public for their support.

“Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust,” she said.

The Queen is now the nation’s longest reigning monarch and has been seen as a source of stability during the coronavirus crisis.

The Queen at Windsor (PA Wire)

She has made two televised addresses to the nation during lockdown, the first a speech to reassure the country that the virus would be overcome, telling those in isolation “we will meet again”, and another on a similar theme to mark VE Day.

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