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Queen Elizabeth II Looks Back on her Fathers Coronation 75 Years Ago

Queen Elizabeth II, only 11 years, with her mother, Queen Elizabeth (left),
her sister Princess Margaret (right), and King George VI (extreme right)
during his coronation.

May 12, 1937, exactly 75 years ago, Albert, Duke of York, was officially crowned George VI, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Emperor of India.

March 9, 2012, Queen Elizabeth II opened the Parliament, highlighting her Diamond Jubilee celebration. Indeed, exactly 75 years ago, destiny began to unfold for the then 11-year-old Elizabeth: One day, she would become Queen.

King George VI's coronation ceremony
Princess Elizabeth attended her father’s coronation at Westminster Abbey wearing a long dress and train, with her coronet on her head. She joined the procession to the Royal Box. She kept a close eye on her younger sister, Princess Margaret who tossed and turned on her chair and even tried to swing her legs.

She looked “very grave, her little smooth brown head, unadorned, a contrast to all the tiaras’ and how as she passed to her seat, she and her ladies bowed to the Altar ‘and then came a gleam of a smile across her serious face as she saw the two eager little faces looking out at her from the Royal Box,” observed of the wife of the Bishop of Chichester.

The King and Queen rides the Imperial State Coach,
Meanwhile, young Elizabeth records her own accounts of her father’s coronation, writing: ‘I thought it very, very wonderful and I expect the Abbey did too. The arches and beams at the top were covered with a sort of haze of wonder as Papa was crowned, at least I thought so.’

The princess noted that the Archibishop of Canterbury was struggling while trying to put the crown on King George’s head, the king himself was not sure if the archbishop was putting it on the right way.

Thousands of loyal subjects flock the streets to witness the
coronation procession.
Meanwhile, Sir Osbert Sitwell thought the King looked like ‘a medieval missal, grave, white and lean, and went through his duties with the simplicity of movement and gesture of a great actor’, while Cecil Beaton noted that since the King had taken up his duties with such devotion, he had acquired ‘an added beauty and nobility. It is the same metamorphosis that comes to a cinema star. As with his beauty, so his speech. The technical difficulties have been overcome and his voice is solemn, deep and emotional.’

Princess Elizabeth also noted that her grandmother Queen Mary was so moved by the ceremony, although the public never saw this because the Duke of Norfolk edited this part from the final film shown in theaters.

The coronation procession making its progress through
the streets of London.
But just like any other child her age, once all the action and drama were done, Princess Elizabeth got bored and the only thing she was glad about was pointing at the word ‘Finis’ in the service sheet. Queen Mary, too, smiled with relief. The ceremony eventually ended and the Royal Family returned to Buckingham Palace in carriages.  

“Others were less lucky. It poured with rain as the peers left at 4pm. Cars stretched back as far as Lambeth and many gave up waiting. The awning dripped. Peers feared for their robes in the deluge. The Duke of Argyll waited for two-and-a-half hours. The last person left at 9pm,” noted Daily Mail.


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