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THE CORONATION OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II.

 

London, 2nd June 1953.

 

 

 

FOREWORD.

 

Contributed by George MILLIE.

 

(Compiled from print media sources)

 

King George VI died during the night of 15th/16th February 1952. Princess Elizabeth immediately acceded to the throne and 16 months later Great Britain witnessed her Coronation. In 1953 the nation was ready and eager to celebrate the occasion; the austerity imposed by World War II and the post-war years was gradually easing with the return of prosperity and national confidence. 1953 marked the emergence of a New Elizabethan Age.

 

During the final weeks leading up to 2nd June every city, town, village and hamlet was bedecked with the Union Flag, bunting, and photographs of the Monarch. Street parties were organized, and extra trains and buses were provided to transport spectators into the City of London. During the penultimate day hundreds of thousands of people established themselves along the coronation route in London to endure the damp discomfort of the City’s pavements. During the early hours of the morning of Coronation Day their ranks were swelled by millions of eager spectators from across the nation and the world.

 

The Queen approved the decision to allow the proceedings inside Westminster Abbey to be televised, enabling some 56% of the population of the British Isles and an estimated 300-million people throughout the world to watch the occasion on television. A further 23% listened to commentaries on the wireless.

 

 

Coronation Route.

 

Out-bound: Buckingham Palace - The Mall - Northumberland Avenue - Victoria Embankment - Parliament Square - Westminster Abbey

In-bound: Westminster Abbey - Parliament Square – Whitehall – Haymarket - Pall Mall – St. James’s Street – Piccadilly – East Carriage Road - Oxford Street - Regent Street – Haymarket - The Mall - Buckingham Palace.

 

 

On June 2nd, at 10.26 am, the Queen’s gold State Coach drawn by eight Windsor Greys slowly made its way through the gates of Buckingham Palace to be greeted by the throng lining the route to Westminster Abbey. The interior of the coach was lit to enable the Queen, and Prince Philip in the full-dress uniform of Admiral of the Fleet, to be clearly seen by everyone in the crowd.

 

 

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II”.

A painting by Cuneo

 

 

In Westminster Abbey the ceremony, its origins established in mediaeval times, was conducted by Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury, and witnessed by a congregation of some 7,700 people. As the ceremony reached its climax Prince Charles, aged four years, was seen peeping over the Royal Family’s balcony. He was standing next to the Queen Mother. As St. Edward’s crown was placed upon the Queen’s head the guns of the Tower of London boomed out in salute and the crowds outside the Abbey commenced cheering.

 

 

Piccadilly Circus.

 

(above) Crowds of spectators watch the State Royal Coach round the Statue of Eros (left of picture) after the Coronation

 

As the Queen emerged from the Abbey to return via an extended route to Buckingham Palace rain poured down from the overcast sky. A laughing Queen Salote of Tonga, her generous majestic proportions filling an open landau, provided the only ray of sunshine on that day. Meteor Jet fighters of the RAF roared overhead in a fly-past as the Royal Family watched from the Palace balcony and at 10 pm the Queen, on her sixth and final appearance to greet the crowd, switched on the illuminations stretching along the Mall to the City.

 


 

THE CORONATION MEDAL.

 

This medal, to commemorate the Coronation, was struck in silver at the Royal Mint for issue to members of the Crown Services and others in Britain and in other parts of the Commonwealth and Empire. The medal, designed by Mr. Cecil Thomas, is 1¼ inches in diameter and bears on the obverse the effigy of the Queen, crowned and robed and looking to the right. The reverse bears the Royal cipher, ‘E II R’, surmounted by the crown, surrounded by the inscription ‘QUEEN ELIZABETH II CROWNED 2ND JUNE, 1953.’ The medal hangs from a ring, and the ribbon, 1¼ inches wide, is dark red with narrow white stripes at each edge and two narrow stripes of dark blue near the centre.

 

The Coronation Medal, engraved round the rim with the words: ‘MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION’, was presented by the Queen to all the fourteen members of the expedition at Buckingham Palace on 16th July 1953. The award was Her Majesty’s own happy idea to mark the coincidence of the conquest of the mountain with her Coronation.

 

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CORONATION DAY.

 

June 2nd, 1953.

 

A SQUADDIE’S EXPERIENCE.

 

Contributed by the former

22289011 Craftsman PERROTT D.J.

5 Anti Aircraft Group Workshops REME

Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire

 

Being asked to reflect upon my experiences on and around the time of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and to put those reflections into words might not seem much of a challenge to some. I was then young and foolish (as opposed to old and foolish as I am now) and perhaps did not fully appreciate the honour of being chosen or the uniqueness in my lifetime of the occasion. So I sailed through it blissfully unaware that some forty-eight years on I would be asked to record my memories of the events.

 

Three of us were chosen to represent the Unit, either marching or lining the route. How were these selections made? I never really knew, or perhaps I never cared. As for both Ginger FLEMEN and me I think height was possibly a consideration; he was tall and for lining the route it could have been a qualification. On the other hand I was five feet nine-ish and therefore wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb or anything else you can think of in your average platoon.

 

“Some Idiot”

 

George MILLIE modelling items of Dave FLEMEN’s

Coronation uniform

(No 1 Dress Blues cap, jacket and white cotton gloves)

 

 

 

L/Cpl Dave FLEMEN and Craftsman Dave PERROTT wearing almost complete No 1 Dress Blues uniform reintroduced for the Coronation Parade (note the absence of collar dogs, white cotton gloves, and highly beazed boots)

 

The preparations were fairly intense; it was the one and only time the Army cared if our uniforms properly fitted us. The uniform, No 1 Dress Blues re-introduced for the occasion, was really well tailored. We apparently had to become accustomed to marching prodigious distances with a rifle “at the slope” so, in true military fashion and with Army logic they “marched us prodigious distances with a rifle at the slope”. I recall it was a scorching hot Whitsun that year and we were confined to camp - no 72-hour passes - and spent all weekend tramping the roads around Newark covering some considerable distances. Fortunately I have always been capable of walking long distances without undue distress.

 

Of the train journey to London I have no recollection. Each of us was issued an Arrival Card for booking in upon our arrival on Friday at Olympia where we were billeted. Each man was issued a mattress cover and pointed in the direction of a heap of straw with which to fill it; we slept on the floor. I should mention that the catering arrangements were excellent; we must have had the pick of the Royal Army Catering Corps at our disposal.

 

One of the highlights of our stay was a very obliging young lady whose French windows and balcony were opposite our toilet windows. She entertained us all by performing partial stripteases, flitting on and off the balcony from behind the curtains with more or less clothes on as fancy took her. You can imagine the catcalls across that London street. It was important not to succumb to ‘Delhi Belly’ around the time of these performances because every ‘trap’ was full.

 

I was given two tickets for my family to watch the parade, and my mother and sister enjoyed a good position in The Mall from which to view the event.

 

The weather on the day was lousy. I’m sure many people remember the pictures of Queen Salote of Tonga riding in an open carriage braving the elements. In the early hours of the morning we marched into Green Park to assemble, and at the appropriate time we joined the procession. The weather could not dampen the people’s enjoyment; the bands were fantastic; the crowds amazing; the atmosphere unforgettable.

 

I believe the route was five miles in length and I was very pleased to be marching instead of standing still all day long. Finally we marched back from Green Park to our billets, having covered a fair few miles that day and were rewarded with a tot of rum on our return.

 

I don’t particularly remember when or how we returned to Newark where The ‘Issue of the Coronation Medal’ became a contentious subject. Three medals were issued to 5 Anti Aircraft Group Workshops that I suppose were to be presented at the discretion of the C.O. One each for the actual participants would have been nice, but I believe the Adjutant and R.S.M. were recipients, and the three participants drew lots for the third – Ginger FLEMEN won. Good luck to him!

 


 

CORONATION DAY MEMORIES.

 

The Mémoire Of A Spectator.

 

Contributed by Margaret nee PERROTT.

 

1953 proved to be quite an exciting year for me; my wedding day was on September 2nd. Following all the arrangements I discovered I was going to be able to be a spectator standing in The Mall in London to witness the Coronation Parade and celebrations.

 

My brother David had joined the Regular Army when leaving school and was picked to march in the procession. He was allocated two tickets, so Mum and I left rural Dorset on 1st June to travel up to London, staying overnight in a friend’s flat.

 

We were up early next morning to make our way to our places on The Mall. The streets were already packed with people. Weather-wise it was not a particularly good day, drizzly if I remember correctly. It was all very exciting for both Mum and me as we had never before attended an event such as this, and I don’t suppose I ever will again.

 

My Dad spent the day with my future husband and his family and thoroughly enjoyed himself. My future in-laws had thirteen children and there was an enormous piece of roast beef for lunch. My husband lived in the village of Stourpaine, on one bank of the River Stour, and on the opposite bank of the river was the village of Durweston. A tug-of-war, to be pulled across the river, was arranged between the two villages. The Stourpaine team won with the help of my husband and some of his brothers, and I still have the glass tankard inscribed: “Elizabeth R – 1953” that he was given. At this time I was working for Senior & Godwin Auctioneers & Estate Agents etc. in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, where I grew up. Our offices were beautifully decorated for the occasion; I still have the photograph taken by a local young man with whom my brother was at school.

 

The Offices of Senior & Godwin

 

“GOD SAVE THE QUEEN”.

 


 

Spectator Tickets and Information.

 

 

 

 

(The following document was issued with the tickets)

 

 


 

The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal.

2002.

 

 

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The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

2012.

 

Copyright © of the Official U.K. Government web site  HERE.  

 

First Published: 24th April 2002.

Latest Update: 1st July 2013.

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