Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953
Coronation portrait of The Queen painted by Sir Herbert James Gunn (1893-1964) in 1954. Her Majesty is shown in Coronation robes in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace. Her robe falls over the throne specially made for the occasion, and the Imperial State Crown and the sceptre are placed on the table beside her. The Queen wears the Diamond Diadem made for King George IV, Queen Victoria’s collet diamond necklace and diamond drop earrings, and the Collar and Badge of the Order of the Garter. Her Majesty’s dress, made of white satin, incorporating National and Commonwealth emblems, was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell, The Queen’s principal dressmaker. It was embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework, who worked for a total of 3,500 hours between March and May 1953. Royal Collection © 2013 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II RCIN 404386
Photograph of the vast crowds standing at Trafalgar Square, using mirrors to watch the procession for the Coronation of The Queen. Royal Collection © 2013 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II RCIN 2002621
The Order and Form of Service for the Coronation of The Queen. The page displayed shows the Congregation being asked whether they recognise Queen Elizabeth as their undoubted Queen and showing their willingness to do so by acclamations of “God Save Queen Elizabeth”. Royal Archives © 2013 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II RA F&V/COR/1953
In this photograph of the 1953 Coronation procession, the Gold State Coach is about to drive through Marble Arch, and Buckingham Palace can be seen in the background with thousands of people lining the Mall. The Gold State Coach was drawn by eight grey geldings: Cunningham, Eisenhower, Tovey, Snow White, Craanford, Tipperary, Tedder and McCreery. Royal Collection © 2013 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II RCIN 2002768
Description and image of the Gold State Coach, which was commissioned by King George III in late 1760 and first used at the State Opening of Parliament on 25 November 1762. The Gold State Coach is 3.6 metres high, over 7 metres long and weighs fours tons, requiring eight horses to pull it. Royal Archives © 2013 Royal Collection © 2013 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
On the evening of her Coronation on 2 June 1953, The Queen made a radio broadcast reflecting on the events of the day, thanking the public for their support and promising to serve the Nation. Royal Archives © 2013 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II RA F&V/COR/1953
Menu for The Queen’s Coronation Banquet held on 3 June 1953. The String Band of the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues and Royals) and the Pipers of the Scots Guards, played a selection of music during and after the banquet. Royal Archives © 2013 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II RA MRH/MRH/MIXED/SOV/89/10
This was the first time that the ceremony was to be televised and prior to the Coronation, licence holders doubled from approximately 1.5 million to 3 million in preparation for the day-long coverage of the procession, service and crowning.
An estimated 27 million people watched the Coronation live, over half the population of Britain, while a further 11 million people listened on the radio. Thousands of people celebrated throughout the country and the Commonwealth with street parties.
The night before the Coronation, people camped along The Mall to catch a glimpse of the procession, and some were so keen that they slept outdoors for two days along the route.
The return route from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace had been designed so that The Queen and her procession could be seen by as many people as possible. The 7.2 km [4.5 miles] route took the 16,000 participants two hours to complete.
View footage of the Coronation:
A special dish was invented for the foreign guests who were to be entertained after the Coronation. The food had to be prepared in advance and Constance Spry, who also helped with floral arrangements on the day, proposed a recipe of cold chicken in a curry cream with a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, green peas and mixed herbs. This recipe won the approval of the Minister of Works and has since been known as Coronation Chicken.
On 3 June 1953 The Queen hosted two Banquets at Buckingham Palace in honour of the Foreign and Commonwealth Representatives who attended Her Majesty’s Coronation.
One hundred and twenty-nine nations and territories were officially represented at the Coronation service.
Probably the most memorable overseas attendee was Queen Salote of Tonga, who endeared herself to the crowd driving through the streets in an open carriage, smiling and waving, in the pouring rain while many of the other guests chose to withdraw into the shelter of their carriages.
View details of a major exhibition to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation on the Royal Collection website (opens in new window).