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The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – Part 2 : An Outpour of Support

An outpour of public support for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.
Image credit: BBC
The morning of June 3, 1953, Buckingham Palace was so full of ructions because Prince Charles, four years old, was allowed to attend the ceremony. However, her younger sister, Princess Anne, only two, was told to stay at home. Queen Elizabeth II, who was to be crowned on that day, insisted despite the tantrums, that princess Anne was too young to go. She can’t handle the strain of the four-hour service. In fact, even Prince Charles, all garbed in his satin suit, found it too much for him. Together with his grandmother, QueenElizabeth the Queen Mother, he watched his mother get the crown on her head, but as the ceremony progressed, he eventually grew impatient. He and the Queen Mother left the ceremony before it ended.
The weeks preceding the coronation filled London will festivity and celebrations. The gripping was such that the Evening Standard published a special supplement detailing about the outpouring of people arriving in the capital, giving them some practical tips on how to gear up for the big day. For female readers, the newspaper tipped them about their “C-Day Scheme,” telling them it’s best for them to wear stovepipe trousers and ballet-length cocktail dresses to make them look smart and classy.

Meanwhile, the newspaper warned kerb-watchers: “Don’t make the mistake of cramming too much food into your bag,” writing that “thin brown bread-and-butter cress or salad sandwiches are less thirst-making than cake…”

Up to that time, the crowds were the largest that London had ever witnessed. When statistics finally compiled for the day it turned out there were 6,873 casualties, almost 700 of them were serious enough to warrant ambulance, most of them broke their arms or legs , others from fatigue after a sleepless night of waiting.

More than 100,000 seats were built along processional route aside from the 7,000 seats reserved at Westminster Abbey. Suddenly, London became a city of tents, all flooding Kensington Palace Gardens. And while the populace tried their best to sleep, a plain unescorted van travelled through the night from the Jewel House in the Tower of London to the Abbey, carrying the priceless regalia for the coronation.

As a security precaution exact replicas of each piece, enclosed in leather boxes, followed the same route with an elaborate police guards. A large amount of the regalia had been sold by Oliver Cromwell after the English Civil War. New pieces had been made for the coronation of Charles II in 1661 at a cost of 32,000 pounds.

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

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