With her Platinum Jubilee upon us, we revisit when the Queen was coronated and relive special details from the historic day.
As the Queen of England she's accustomed to grandeur and great perks like palaces, jewels and two birthdays (opens in new tab) a year. But perhaps the most grand and memorable moment in any monarch's life is the Coronation ceremony itself. And Queen Elizabeth II's certainly proved to be a historic and record-breaking one.
This year Her Majesty celebrates her Platinum Jubilee (opens in new tab) - totalling an incredible 70 years on the throne. To mark the occasion, the UK will have an extra bank holiday to coincide with the anniversary of her big coronation. From a significant London setting to a fabulous frock and an impressive international guest list - we take a trip down the monarch's memory lane.
When was the Queen coronated?
The Queen's coronation took place on 2 June 1953 in Westminster Abbey. The service was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and began at 11:15am prompt, lasting for around three hours. Queen Elizabeth II was the thirty-ninth sovereign to have their coronation at Westminster Abbey. Hers was particularly historic though - as it was the first ever coronation to be televised.
As depicted in Netflix's The Crown (opens in new tab), the idea to televise the coronation was suggested by the late Prince Philip (opens in new tab). The Queen made her husband chair of her coronation commission. And he thought that broadcasting the ceremony would help modernize the monarchy.
Approximately 27 million people in Britain tuned into the event via the BBC, outnumbering the radio audience for the first time (11 million). Though it wasn't only UK viewers watching along, with this global event attracting millions of international viewers too. Record-breaking figures were recorded in America, Germany and various Commonwealth countries.
For the special occasion, Her Majesty wore the George IV State Diadem. The crown is made up of 1,333 diamonds and 169 pearls and boasts roses, shamrocks and thistles. Made in 1820, it's the crown that many will recognise her wearing on first and second class stamps (opens in new tab) today.
It proved to be the perfect companian to Elizabeth's coronation gown made by British fashion designer Norman Hartnell. The two already held a special relationship, with Hartnell having also designed the Queen's wedding dress when she married Prince Philip (opens in new tab).
The stunning white satin dress had a sweetheart neckline and full bodied skirt. Though the star of the design was the embroidered silver and gold threaded emblems that represented the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. This included the Tudor Rose (England), the Fern (New Zealand), the Maple Leaf (Canada) and Leeks (Wales).
According to his autiobiography Silver & Gold (opens in new tab), it took Hartwell nine sketches to get the dress right. "I liked the last one best, but naturally did not express my opinion when I submitted these paintings to Her Majesty," he wrote.
The Queen has re-worn the gown in question a further six times - including the the Opening of Parliament in New Zealand in 1954.
Who attended Queen Elizabeth’s coronation?
Inside Westminster Abbey, an incredible 8.251 guests took their seats for the coronation. Those in attendance included then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill, other government figures, foreign royalty and international heads of state from 129 countries.
The Queen's eldest son Prince Charles was also at the Abbey - aged just four years-old at the time. He sat next to his grandmother The Queen Mother and his auntie Princess Margaret.
Charles received his own specially illustrated invitation adorned with British guards in uniform, a lion and a unicorn. He became the first heir apparent – meaning the first in the royal line of succession – to attend a Queen’s coronation.
Princess Anne - then aged 2 - was however deemed too young to go. Though she did appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace after the ceremony.
The world's press also gathered to cover the prestigious ceremony. According to the Royal Family website (opens in new tab), 2,000 journalists from 92 nations made the journey. One of whom was Jacqueline Bouvier, later known as First Lady of the USA, Jackie Kennedy.
How did Britain celebrate the Queen’s coronation?
In London, three million people lined the streets to watch the new Queen returning from the coronation ceremony to Buckingham palace, despite the wet weather. The 7.2km route was designed to allow as many people as possible to gather. It passed through London's Trafalgar Square, Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner and took two hours to complete the procession.
Across the rest of the UK, people held street parties and pageants to celebrate the coronation. But mostly they invited their friends and families to watch the events in London on television. In the two months leading up to the coronation, British viewers bought more TVs than they ever had previously.
The coronation celebrations ended with the traditional appearance of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace waving to the crowd. Loud cheers from the crowds led the Queen to appear six times on the balcony. The Queen appeared still wearing the Imperial State Crown and royal robes worn during the service.
During one such appearance she was joined by Prince Philip and their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne. Jet planes from the Royal Air Force were arranged to fly across the Mall as the monarch made her balcony appearance.
Why was the Queen's coronation delayed?
Queen Elizabeth II's coronation was delayed because royal tradition asks that an appropriate length of mourning time follows after a monarch's death before such a celebration takes place. As such, the Queen waited 15 months and 25 days between taking the title of Queen and her official coronation.
Queen Elizabeth spent the first three months of her reign in seclusion as she mourned her father, but in the summer of 1952 she moved from Clarence House to Buckingham Palace and began undertaking her sovereign duties. That November, she carried out her first opening of Parliament.
The delay also allowed enough time to plan and prepare for the ceremony – although the planning really began when Elizabeth was just 11 years old. Her father, King George VI, made her write down a review of his own coronation, so that she would understand each element and be better prepared for when her time came.
"I thought it all very, very wonderful and I expect the Abbey did, too," reads Elizabeth's account as reported by Vanity Fair (opens in new tab). "The arches and beams at the top were covered with a sort of haze of wonder as Papa was crowned, at least I thought so." Whilst impressed with the venue, the future Queen noted that "At the end the service got rather boring as it was all prayers".
"Grannie and I were looking to see how many more pages to the end, and we turned one more and then I pointed to the word at the bottom of the page and it said 'Finis.' We both smiled at each other and turned back to the service."
As for her coronation - the date, 2 June, was chosen in the hopes of good weather for the event. However, in true British style, it rained all day. After her coronation, Elizabeth officially became known as "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the commonwealth, Defender of the Faith."
When did the Queen become Queen?
Though coronated in 1953, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary became Queen Elizabeth II on February 6th 1952, following the passing of her father George VI. She is officially the UK's longest serving monarch, surpassing the reign of her great-great-grandmother Victoria in 2015. And it doesn't look like the Queen will retire (opens in new tab) anytime soon.
The Queen was on holiday in Kenya when she learnt of her father's death. The King died in his sleep at Sandringham after battling ill health following a lung operation. The then-Princess officially succeeded the throne whilst away in Africa. This was another historic achievement, with Elizabeth II the first monarch in over 200 years to become sovereign while abroad.
2022 marked the 70th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne. In a speech celebrating the achievement, she shared her "pleasure to renew to you the pledge I gave in 1947 that my life will always be devoted to your service". She also took the opportunity to request Camilla be known as Queen Consort (opens in new tab) when Charles becomes king (opens in new tab).
A photo posted by on
How old was the Queen when she took the throne?
Queen Elizabeth II was just 25-years-old when she was crowned monarch of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. This makes her one of the youngest monarchs to ascend the throne at the time.
She was celebrated her official birthday a week later. But this date is not when she was born.
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Emily Stedman is the News Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things royal, entertainment, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things celebrity and royal, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.
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