Coronation

The Coronation of The Queen

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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

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).

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