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The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – Part 1 : All This and Everest, Too

Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II was crowned in Westminster Abbey on a rainy June 2, 1953. The country was just moving forward from the devastation of World War II and Her Majesty’s coronation was a sign of that recovery, being able to demonstrate for the last time her mighty imperial vigor that was steadily on its decline.

More than 10 thousand servicemen – a quarter of them “soldiers of the Queen” from the Commonwealth – marched in the coronation procession. Two thousand bandsmen, which comprised nearly fifty bands, provided music at the background. Sovereigns and rulers around the world arrived in London to honor her small figure, who now heads the greatest nations in history. More than a hundred thousand of her loyal subjects lined the streets of London, despite the dampened weather. The length of her coronation was such that it took almost an hour to pass any one spot.

The ceremony was organized under the watchful and meticulous eyes of the Bernard MarmadukeFitzalan-Howard, 16th Duke of Norfolk, Premier Duke of England, Master of Ceremonies Extraordinary and the one and only official organizer of all state ceremonies. The duke was also the man behind the coronation of King George VI and he also oversaw the funerals of King George V, King George VI and Queen Mary. Despite the changing of times, the Duke saw to it that the tread of martial feet was carefully stopwatched, masterminded to evoke an aura of timelessness and continuity, which is after all, the essence of royalty.
Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was the first grand celebration all throughout the Commonwealth since her own wedding in 1947. But unlike the latter, which was overshadowed by a gloomy economy, strict rationing and an empire on the brinks of teetering, the Coronation was gay, festive and pompous. In fact, the ceremony was coincided with Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing’s success on reaching the peak of Mount Everest, an omen that meant her reign was to filled by splendor and grandeur—truly a New Elizabethan Age. A newspaper even headlined: “All This and Everest, Too.” Nevertheless, June 1953 was one of the gloomiest days of the 20th century. But the cold and the pouring rain did not stop the crowd from, some of them too old actually, standing all night just to catch a glimpse of their Queen. Lucky for those who were there, the blessings of television allowed them to take part of the pageantry, right at the comfort of their own home. In fact, the Coronation was hailed as the first triumph of the small screen. A lot of people purchased their very first set with the hope of watching two color films of the Coronation – A Queen is Crowned and Elizabeth is Queen, televised to over two million people around the world.

Adapted from: Tribute to Her Majesty. Produced and Designed by Serge Lemoine; text by Don Coolican. Scott Publishing Co. Ltd., 1986.

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