Memories - as a chorister at Westminster School said in 1952 once he heard the Westminster Minute Bell toll he knew the King had died and he felt sad ... then soon after realised with great joy that they would participate in a Coronation ...
That 1st of June the heavens had opened and anyone who came to London – all 2 million of them ... were going to get a soaking ... and have a cold night – apparently it was 2 degrees F colder than in December 6 months later!
The 2nd of June had been chosen because records showed it to be sunniest day of the year – well not in June 1953! Brollies were up, transparent macs were on, extra jumpers were donned, blankets covered knees ...
|The Queen and the Duke after the|
Coronation in 1953, on the balcony
of Buckingham Palace
Families and friends came ... they sat it out ... breaks were had, places saved ... then the rain cleared ... similar to last year for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
‘Dress code’ was different ... in 1953 almost everyone was in a hat of some description ... it was de rigeur not to wear a hat, children included, ... there were no flags being waved by the ecstatic spectators ...
|Weybridge invitation to local residents|
But everyone was happy, the roads and pavements were packed with people, damp dignitaries sat in specially erected stands ... The Mall was crowded out ...
... Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace was surrounded ... the streets were lined to welcome the new Queen making her way to Westminster Abbey in the golden state coach.
|Part of the Coronation issue of portraits|
- this one by Terence Cuneo:
study for the Coronation of
Queen Elizabeth II 1953.
c/o Royal Heritage
The Americans had promised to air the Coronation with all due reverence ... BUT the US tv spliced the broadcast with clips of chimpanzees in a bow tie and an advert for the “Queen of motorcars” ... advertising caught on in England!
The Queen was 18 years younger than President Kennedy when he became president ... while as “Inquiring Photographer” for the Washington Post a young journalist, one Jacqueline Bouvier, was in attendance. (The Kennedy’s married in September 1953).
Millions around the world watched it on television, mostly in Britain ... this was the first time that some of the British public would have seen television... after the Coronation rush to buy tv sets took off ...
Jo in her blog has posted a Canadian TV clip of those times - where the CBC rightly were quite pleased with themselves as they took footage of the event, had it processed in London and then flew it across the Atlantic - so it could be shown on the same day in Canada. (Video here)
... we drove up from west Surrey to the Thames boat houses ... and spent the day with a friend of my father’s at his house, as he used to row at Oxford ... we ran up and down the towpath, in and out of the lapping river ... how much we saw of the tv I’ve no idea ... I expect we were rounded up to watch!
People took their children and friends to the cinema to see the film of the Coronation ... distributed I assume by Pathe News. Most citizens would not have had access to a tv ... so waited a few days until the local cinema showed the event ...
We did get Coronation Mugs ... but there was tat around, even in 1953! There were paper bags coloured red, white and blue – now I’d say that was enterprising ... some of the other stuff perhaps not so much ...
Street parties were had – the entertainment was ‘home-made’ as there were no tvs in the street ... bunting was strung across the road, competitions were had – coronation queens were crowned ...
... Mansfield Street in Bristol made their own red, white and blue, bunting and a huge golden crown ... the winning queen still had her golden dress, some cake decoration and a box of Coronation cigarettes – still with some unsmoked inside ...
|Mansfield Street - a colour film had been made -|
unusual for the time .. the BBC have restored
it here, which I hope shows overseas
Some rationing was removed ... sweets and sausages!
|Selection of sweets from the 1950s|
Churchill as Prime Minister, who had been against broadcasting the Coronation, but had been overruled by others including the Duke of Edinburgh, then was determined the public would enjoy the occasion and everyone was awarded an extra 1lb in sugar to help them celebrate, while caterers were also allowed additional sugar and fat.
This explains why we had chickens – for fresh eggs and meat ... and kept pigs too ... but my mother and I were designated vegetarian, who would then get more cheese and butter in our ration allowance as a family – we had the meat in the garden!
Sixty years on we have just cause to celebrate a great moment in history when the nation and the Commonwealth came together ... and finally, the sun came out again in England and everyone was delighted with those memories of long ago.
More Coronation posts to follow ... how many I do not know!! I should have posted this on Wednesday and joined the help IWSG (the insecure writers support group) - I'm overwhelmed with Coronation information!