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1953: Crowning the Queen

Princess Elizabeth had formally proclaimed herself Queen in February 1952, immediately after the death of her father, George VI.

But the British public had to wait for over a year for her actual coronation. This biggest of royal events required months of meticulous planning.

An estimated three million people lined the streets of London on 2 June 1953 to cheer their newly-crowned Queen.

Your stories:

I was a five-year-old American child in the middle of a bout of chicken pox. Mother had put white cotton gloves, usually reserved for church, on me to keep me from scratching.

I sat in solitary splendour in a pink satin bathrobe in front of a black and white TV watching the film that had been flown across the Atlantic just hours after the event. The image is still vivid.
Harriet Collins, United States

I arose at 0400 that morning in Pennsylvania to watch it live on the TV. They attempted to bounce the signal off the upper atmosphere which did not work.

The recording was flown here in an RAF Vulcan bomber which beat the sun across the Atlantic, and was shown nationwide.
Greg Sanders, USA

I was born in Deal, Kent, on the day Queen Elizabeth was crowned, but my Royal Marine Dad, Michael Benton, was on parade on the streets of London - thinking it was a touch more important than the birth of his daughter!

I was named Hilary Elizabeth after the Queen and Sir Edmund Hillary, who had reached the top of Mount Everest a couple of days earlier, the news of which was withheld until Coronation Day.

Whatever happened to the silver spoon that was to be given to all babies born on that day? I didn't get mine!
Hilary Borrow (nee Benton), Wales

I was a young RAF aircrew cadet at Swanton Morley, near Dereham in Norfolk, and was part of the route guard in London. I had a big party at my friend Vic Rainbow's house in Enfield afterwards.
Tom Bellgard, Australia

It was my eight birthday (so I have a special birthday today!). We had a street party in Cullompton, Devon, which doubled as a birthday party. I still have the mug, of course.

A wonderful year with Everest and the Coronation and the Ashes win - all brought to us by Pathé News.
Don Manley, UK

Unforgettable memories! My older brothers and sisters went to London to watch the coronation. I was just 11 and went with my parents to their friends.

They owned a TV with a very small screen but it had a large magnifying glass fitted over the screen! I remember sitting in a darkened room and finding it a bit long and (dare I say) boring.

When I watch it now of course I appreciate the magnificence of it all. What I also remember is learning at school all about the orb, sceptre and the crown with all its stunning emeralds, diamonds and rubies.
Sally Freeman, Australia

I was just short of my seventh birthday when I was taken to grandma's house to see the Coronation.

Actually I was more interested in the TV she had bought especially for the occasion. A gothic contraption in a walnut cabinet that far dwarfed the screen.

Neighbours were invited, a lot wore their Sunday best and we all sat in grandma's "Front Room", which was normally only used on Sundays - I've no idea why.

There were some kind of activities out in the street. If was all supposed to be very important, having a new Queen, all the pomp and ceremony, but the TV was the star of the day for me.
Dave, Japan

I was 12 years old at the coronation. My family was invited to watch the ceremony on a friend's black-and-white TV in Bath, Somerset.

There were about 50 of us all together and we watched solidly. Some of the smaller children were supervised outside. I remember the trumpets playing. It was a memorable occasion.

Later when returning to school via London, the train stopped on the bridge at Charing Cross Station and out drove the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh below us, on one of their drive-arounds following the coronation. We cheered and cheered!
Stella Fleming, USA

I was in the 5th grade. This was a school day (in Ohio), but our teacher considered this a historic event.

Because not every home had television in 1953, host homes were chosen (those who owned television sets) and the class members were divided up so that we all saw the coronation.

I don't know if this was for the entire school or just our class - in any event, I'll never forget it.
Karen, USA

My parents ran a home for "maladjusted" boys in Keighley, West Yorkshire at the time of the Coronation. I was 7 years old.

The local Lions Club bought a black-and-white television for the school so that the boys could watch the event. It was the first time we had watched television and the memories remain of the boys (25 of them) sitting cross-legged in our sitting room absolutely absorbed in watching the event.

We all received a miniature "golden coach and horses" from the local junior schools.
Jeanette, England

My mom, my sister, and I were on holiday visiting relatives in Pode Hole. We all went to a coronation festival event somewhere in the local area.

Mom entered me in a "fancy dress" competition dressed up as an American news reporter suspiciously looking like Clark (Superman) Kent!

The judges were so taken with me that they awarded me first prize. With the prize money I also received a five shilling coronation coin which I still have.

I was six years old at the time. However, my memories of that holiday are still vivid to this day.
John L. Brandolini, USA

We had such fun as we listened to the Coronation on the wireless. Our family bought one just for the occasion. We partied until 10 O'clock. For tea we had coronation chicken and drank lemonade!
Gertrude, Wales

We were listening live from Fiji. I remember I was 15 years old We were cheering and were dancing in the streets.
Ron, Fiji

This is my second memory in my life. I was 3 and a half and Phyllis at the shop round the corner gave a party. I remember my coronation mug.
Val Hirst, England

I was very young, but I remember noting that Her Majesty's head seemed to droop under the tremendous weight of the crown.

It seems now prophetic that she has indeed born with a heavy burden of responsibility and caring for all of us. She has been a marvellous Sovereign and so true to her word.
Don Madge, Canada

I was five years old living in the UK and we had just got one of the first black and white TVs. My mother was ill in bed but my father carried her down to watch it . We then had a street party - great memories.
Judith, Canada

I remember all the school children were along the Embankment and the noise we made was really deafening.

We knocked a policeman's helmet off because we couldn't always see properly.


" If only my eyes had been a movie camera! "

Michael Covey, Canada

The day before I was interviewed by an American TV crew, as I was in London with my parents.

We went to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen and as she passed through the gates people were taking photos. The next day there was a picture in the Daily Mirror and my parents and I could be seen in the reflection of the car - I still have that picture.
June Rose, UK

I was in the RAF lining the route, just left of Piccadilly Tube Station. What a view! If only my eyes had been a movie camera!!
Michael Covey, Canada

It was the middle of the night in Alabama (USA). I was 11, and I didn't have a TV, so I went next door to the neighbour and we listened, following the service in a Canadian Prayer Book.

The neighbour told me all about what was happening in the service, which fascinated an 11-year-old Presbyterian! When the pictures finally came in, I was mesmerised.

The Queen was only a little older than I was. It was a remarkable occasion!
Alice Campbell, USA

As a four-year-old at the time in Sydney, I can remember days of fabulous fireworks and Harbour Fire Boats spraying coloured water high into the air. My first memory!
Graham Ireland, Australia

I was six-years-old and living in London.


" This day is tied up in my mind with the pride of the Everest conquest "

Vivian Draper, France

My father was in the Grenadier Guards and involved in the Coronation. We watched it on the telly - my mother was sure she could identify my father.

This day is tied up in my mind with the pride of the Everest conquest. It was good to be English. Those feelings have lasted for the last 50 years. God Save The Queen.
Vivian Draper, France

In 1953 my primary school had a draw to decide which ten pupils would go up to London to The Mall to watch the Coronation procession.

I was a "reserve" and the day before, one of those selected was taken ill and I was in as a substitute.

I recall that it rained that day but the golden coach and the beauty of Princess Margaret (to an 11-year-old boy) were my principal recollections of the day.
Richard Wright, UK

I was eight-years-old. We were on holiday staying at a guest house in Bembridge, Isle of Wight.


" I wanted to go to the beach - it was the longest, most boring day of my life "

John, Canada

As a special favour the landlady invited my family to watch the event on her nine-inch black and white television set. The room was darkened to improve the picture. The adults sipped sherry. I didn't like the smell.

I wanted to go to the beach. It was the longest, most boring day of my life.
John, Canada

I remember the Coronation well. I was a 14-year-old schoolboy at the time.

I watched the ceremony on television at home in Gerrards Cross then took the train to London and watched the procession from outside Selfridges.

I particularly remember the coaches of the Queen of Tonga and also that of Winston Churchill.
Alan Chapman, UK


" A truly unforgettable day, full of colour and pageantry "

Antonia Brown, UK

I was nine-years-old on coronation day, and sat in the Mall, with my mother and brother.

It rained a lot during the day, but the sun shone on the Queen of Tonga, wearing colourful robes, and our own Queen's golden coach.

My Dad was in the Abbey, conducting the choir, and so we have a programme and LP records of the Coronation Service. A truly unforgettable day, full of colour and pageantry.
Antonia Brown, UK

My father was very anti-royal, so he took us off on holiday to Derbyshire. We stayed in a converted railway carriage, at Thorpe station.

What I do remember were the dozens of special trains steaming through. They were all decorated, and packed with cheering and waving people. I was five at the time.
Michael, US

I was eight-and-a-half years old and there was only one house in our street with a television. It belonged to a Mrs Plymmer and she was good enough to invite a lot of the families to watch the coronation on her TV set.

I remember all the children sitting cross-legged on the floor watching this tiny screen in black and white. All the parents were stood up behind us. I remember the Queen standing up with the orb and sceptre in her hand and wondering how she balanced the crown on her head as it looked so heavy.
Carol Hibberd, S Wales


" The whole town was red, white and blue with Union flags and bunting "

Kelvin Jenkins, Wales

I now live again in the same Welsh market town where I lived on Coronation Day 1953. That day the whole town was red, white and blue with Union flags and bunting.

You would never see that in a Welsh town now - only the red, white and green of the Welsh flag.
Kelvin Jenkins, Wales

I was eight at the time of the coronation and I remember the day well. My father had to go to work, as he worked on a national newspaper, and my mother, brother and I watched television all day.

I particularly remember how slowly the processions in the Abbey seemed to move. I still have the commemorative book given to all pupils at my school and the special edition Prayer Book given by my Sunday School.
Eileen, England

I remember being eight-years-old and watching the coronation on a friend of my parents' nine inch television. I was playing outside on a sunny day in Derby, until my mother called me in and said: "This is history, come and see the Queen being crowned".

There must have been about twenty people crowded into this small room waiting for the moment that the Queen was crowned.

Afterwards we had a street party and I remember helping making red,white and blue hats for the children to wear. All the children received a silver spoon to commemorate the day.

The streets were full of buntings all red,white and blue and there was music, games and laughter throughout the day.

I also remember being told that Mount Everest was conquered on this day.
Rosina Rowland, California, US

I was 10 years old and accidently shopping with my mother, and saw it on TV at an appliance store, as we had no TV in our small town 30 miles away. It was the fist time I had ever seen a TV set. It was wonderful!
Jim Frees, USA

I was a child of nine in 1952 when the Queen was crowned.

At that time I lived in Congleton, Cheshire. Not too many people had televisions in those days, but, one neighbour did have one, and we all crowded into their living room to watch the event on TV.

I remember being absolutely in awe of this lovely young woman and the pomp and ceremony that surrounded her. I have been a staunch monarchist every since, even though I have lived in Canada for 35 1/2 years.
Anne Humphreys, Canada


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