Friday, 7 June 2013

Coronation - Memories 1953 - Part 1/5

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 ...
Westminster Abbey
western entrance

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)
River Thames - boat houses 

... 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
They won £75 – and treated the whole street to a day out at the seaside in Weymouth .. they hired a train for the journey ...  in 1953 they knew everyone, as one resident said – today he only knows about 30% of the families in the road.

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!

The Queen at her Coronation in the
Coronation Chair
 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!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She was so young when she became queen. (Although I'm sure there have been younger kings and queens in the past.) Cool you got a mug!

J.L. Murphey said...

Very interesting blog.

Sherry Ellis said...

The queen looks so young in those pictures! (I bet you have a lot of coronation information. It's a big deal where you live!)

Mark Means said...

A great glimpse into the past and I always find the relationship between Britain and their monarchs to be very interesting.

Thanks for sharing this little slice of life :)

Janie Junebug said...

My computer did something strange when I commented, so I don't know if the comment went through. Pardon me if you're receiving my comment a second time, but I said something to the effect that my PBS (Public Broadcasting System) station has been showing a number of documentaries about the Queen that I'm enjoying. I'm so ashamed of American TV, though, for interrupting the broadcast that way. A number of years ago I asked a man from Finland about American shows they received, and he said Bay Watch was very popular. I apologized.


Lynn said...

I love seeing Queen Elizabeth's electric smile in that photo from 1953.

cleemckenzie said...

She was so young. It's hard to imagine all that she's done and all the people she's interacted with over these years. Amazing.

I always learn so much about history when I visit your blog, Hilary. Thanks.

Luanne G. Smith said...

Amazing reign. Sixty years!

It's odd to think how rare television coverage was back then. And, now, to think they can't do anything without it being caught on film...

And I have to admit that one of my favorite moments from the recent summer Olympics was seeing the queen in the James Bond video during the opening ceremonies.

Jo said...

What a long time ago that was. I lived in Kent and I did see it on TV and on the movies. What about Coronation Chicken that was invented for the occasion. An Uncle of mine was a Westminster chorister and sang for George 5's coronation I think. Think he was too old for it to have been George VI. I don't remember much of the day itself, do you?

I had some items from the non Coronation of Edward VII which I gave to Matt's oldest.

Thanks for the shout out.

Suzanne Furness said...

I can't believe it is already a year since I stood on the side of the River Thames in the rain watching the flotilla. Something I will remember for ever.

Laura Eno said...

It's extraordinary to look back at such a different time, it being the last coronation and the Queen having been on the throne for so long now. The portrait of her (it looks like a stamp maybe?) is stunning. I've never seen it before. It makes me wonder about the changes to the next one - what with the global influence and internet. Those times 60 years ago were an era never to be recaptured. Thank you for posting this. Fabulous!

A Lady's Life said...

We always loved the Queen and still do.
She is a fine Monarch and handled herself very well in public.
I hope her Prince gets better. He has been looking so ill lately.

Old Kitty said...

I was at Regent Street last weekend and loved the display/flags hanging over the street commemorating Queenie's coronation! Thanks for sharing these lovely memories, Hilary. Also the different ways the US and Canada and the UK showed the coronation to the world - with the US winning the prize for the most audacious! Take care

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

She was so pretty. And they both look very much in love. Thanks for sharing your memories about an especially significant event in history!

Mary Montague Sikes

MunirGhiasuddin said...

when we were in England, the queen was still very young in 1971. These pictures show yet even younger queen. Thanks for sharing:) Cheers !

JoJo said...

Wow 60 years already! My now deceased ex husband used to wish so bad that he'd live long enough to see a king of England. He never did.

Martha said...

So lovely! I always feel like I've had a wonderful history lesson when I visit here :)

Chatty Crone said...

A lot of wonderful things happened that year - including me being born - lol. sandie

Empty Nest Insider said...

It's great that she's still going strong after sixty years, though Charles probably sees things differently! Wonderful photos, and I also like your Coronation mug!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex - she was very young, but the Queen certainly standards for us all .. yes the mug was a great reminder.

@ JL - thanks

@ Sherry - yes I'm streaming the info back out to you! It's interesting though ..

@ Mark - I enjoy the history that's attached and recorded along with Kings and Queens .. so pleased you do too ..

@ Janie - well I got one comment - sorry about the technology .. I've been having some blips too ..

I gather from the BBC World that the PBS has been showing some back programmes - glad you're enjoying those.

When I was in South Africa there was an Equity ban (Acting Union) by the British .. so we had lots of American programmes then - I was 'desperate' for some British tv!!! Bay Watch went around the world! - I expect I watched an episode or two .. but that was max .. Good for you to apologise ..

@ Lynn - I agree that photo captivated me ..

@ Lee - you're so right she has met so many peoples around the world .. and must be a source of great knowledge - we'll never find out though .. sadly ...

Delighted to see you back ..

@ Luanne - I know sixty years .. and how amazing she's been through it all ..

tv then v today - you've made the point so well .. that James Bond appearance at the Summer Olympics was fun wasn't it - that will live on in the annals of history ..

@ Jo - it was a long time ago .. glad you watched it .. and yes Coronation Chicken lives on .. I mentioned that in my A-Z this year on I for Indian Curry ..

How lovely to have an uncle who sang at a Cornonation .. and so pleased you were able to pass on some memorabilia re Edward VIII ..

It's another clip - that will be visible in north America .. as some videos don't work on other continents ..

@ Suzanne - gosh did you travel up for the Pageant - what a fantastic thing to do as a family .. did you write about it ..

Lucky Furness family being in London for the Jubilee - the children will remember the time for a long time .. so pleased for you all.

@ Laura - yes the portrait is one used on the set of stamps issued for the anniversary of the Coronation. It's a great painting isn't it ..

So much is changing so fast .. and the next Coronation has entered into the realms of being discussed about ... we'll see I expect! Delighted you enjoyed this ..

@ A Lady's Life - you've said it right .. the Queen has led an exemplary life ... Prince Philip seemed to be ok, but obviously has some problem ... I thought he looked pretty good for 92 on Monday 10th June ..

@ Old Kitty - there was quite a lot of commemorative regalia around when I was in town on Thursday, but I bypassed the Oxford Street area .. went from St Pauls to Kensington Palace via the tube ..

I was interested in the different approach the three countries had taken to programming the event - if Jo hadn't posted her Canadian clip I'd have never known about that.

@ Monty - the Queen still has that wonderful smile, and Philip was very handsome .. while I'm sure they were very much in love. Good to see you ..

@ Munir - you would know quite a bit having lived here for a while .. good to see you.

@ JoJo - I have to say I'm quite glad the Queen is still on the throne ... she is such a stabilising influence ... but equally I'm sorry your husband wasn't able to be around long enough to see King Charles III - I presume he'll get there first!

@ Martha - delighted you enjoyed the 'history' snippets ..

@ Sandie - good year to be born .. and we still celebrate your birth!

@ Julie - I'm not sure about Charles - I would think that he's quite grateful he's been able to live most of his life doing his thing, without worrying too much about affairs of State ..

Glad you enjoyed the post - sadly that's someone else's Coronation mug - but ours were like that!

Cheers to you all and have a lovely weekend .. summer has arrived here, I'm so pleased to say .. Hilary

Annalisa Crawford said...

A very interesting time - probably the last period in history when a new monarch will be celebrated so openly.

Julia Hones said...

An interesting trip to the past. Thank you for the invitation, Hilary. It was fun!

Tina said...

Oh what fun! I love the competition and how that whole town got to have a holiday! Totally cool. How neat that you have your own memories as well. I can't wait to hear the rest of the story!
Tina @ Life is Good

Michelle Wallace said...

Over the years, the monarchy has undergone a transformation... and with the new baby on the way, I wonder what will happen next...? Interesting times.
Writer In Transit

Rosalind Adam said...

Isn't it strange, and a great shame, how the rain bucketed down then and last year for the celebrations. I don't remember watching the Coronation but I do remember my older sister cutting out photos of the procession for her scrap book. I know the Queen wants to serve her country, keep her promise, but it''s sad that an elderly lady can't take a well-earned rest.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Annalisa .. you're probably right there .. the aspects of the next Coronation are being considered - and of course who knows .. I sincerely hope we will be as open and more so ..

@ Julia - glad you enjoyed your invite Julia!

@ Tina - well without tv everyone wanted to celebrate and we were in the mode of make your own .. so they did .. I sort of vaguely remember ..

@ Michelle - yes the monarchy has undergone a transformation hasn't it .. it seems to have settled itself - and the new baby will make a world of difference .. I would hope monarchy and the House of Windsor will continue to evolve - they seem to have more of a grip of reality - I'd hate to lose our history and pageantry ..

@ Ros - I know .. sod's law re the rain at the Coronation and at the Jubilee Pageant last year ..

I think she's come to terms with life as it is .. as has Charles - and they do get a break .. but not often without putting on the make-up ... I think they've probably adapted and accepted that this is life .. as now - the Queen at Windsor, while the Prince is in the London Clinic ... we'd be hovering over our spouse .. but no doubt they are better informed and have all the trappings of State at their disposal should the need arise ..

Though I'd happily join the Queen in some long rest!! Earned by me or otherwise ..

Cheers to you all .. lovely to see you .. Hilary

Vallypee said...

Ooh, I missed this first part. Lovely memories for you, Hilary. I was born just a couple of years later, but I heard my parents and brothers talking about it when I was small. Lovely pictures and cameos too. The queen was very pretty as a girl.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Val - it's just been interesting to write about then and now and remember things we see .. but perhaps forget about. The Queen was very pretty wasn't she .. love figure too ..

Thanks - good to see you .. Hilary

Juliet said...

I remember having a Coronation cup and saucer and all the school children got a 'medal' - all of which are absolutely worthless now.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Juliet - we had mugs .. and we had sets of coins .. which if I still had some them ... might have been of some worth! I'd no ideas medals were handed out ..

Thanks for these little extras .. Hilary