2 June 1953
The Queen's Coronation

Official GJ photograph
by John Swannell
Camera Press Ltd, 2002

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The beginning of June sees the 50th anniversary of The Queen's Coronation in Westminster Abbey, which took place on 2 June 1953.

The coronation of the new Sovereign follows the accession after an appropriate interval. The ceremony has remained essentially the same over a thousand years.

For the last 900 years, the ceremony has taken place at Westminster Abbey. The service is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury (whose task this has almost always been since the Norman Conquest in 1066) in the presence of representatives of the Houses of Parliament, Church and State. Prime ministers and leading citizens from the Commonwealth and representatives of other countries also attend.

The coronation is an occasion for pageantry and celebration, but it is a religious ceremony. During the ceremony, the Sovereign takes the coronation oath - the form and wording have varied over the centuries.

Today, the Sovereign undertakes to rule according to law, to exercise justice with mercy - promises symbolised by the four swords in the coronation regalia (the Crown Jewels) - and to maintain the Church of England.

The Sovereign is then 'anointed, blessed and consecrated' by the Archbishop, whilst the Sovereign is seated in King Edward's chair (made in 1300, and used by every Sovereign since 1626).

After receiving the orb and sceptres, the Archbishop places St Edward's Crown on the Sovereign's head. After homage is paid by the Archbishop of Canterbury and senior peers, Holy Communion is celebrated.

A Queen consort is crowned with the King, in a similar but simpler ceremony. If the new Sovereign is a Queen, her consort is not crowned or anointed at the coronation ceremony. After the present Queen was crowned the Duke of Edinburgh was the first, after the archbishops and bishops, to pay homage to her.

The Queen's Coronation took place on 2 June 1953 following her accession on 6 February 1952.

The Queen celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2002.

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John Swannell / Camera Press
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Three generations of the Royal Family pose for a Coronation anniversary portrait

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    The Queen during the Coronation ceremony,
    2 June 1953
    Copyright reserved

    25 May 2003


    This year marks the 50th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen's Coronation in June 1953. Below is a list of 50 facts concerning the day itself, as well as some information on previous Coronations. For centuries, Kings and Queens have been crowned in ceremonies to formalise their position as Sovereign. Since Queen Elizabeth II's accession on February 6 a year earlier, this day had been planned in great detail. King George VI had been the last monarch to be crowned on 12 May, 1937. Sixteen years later, people gathered together to watch the Coronation of his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, as she prepared to take part in the very ceremony she herself had watched as an 11-year-old girl.

    On 2 June 2003 a church service will be held at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Coronation. This will be followed by a children's tea party at Buckingham Palace for underprivileged children.

    1. The crowning of the Sovereign is an ancient ceremony, rich in religious significance, historic associations and pageantry. For the last 900 years, it has taken place at Westminster Abbey as the royal church for the Palace of Westminster. Before the Abbey was built, Coronations were carried out wherever was convenient, for example at Bath, Oxford and Canterbury.

    2. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on 2 June, 1953 in Westminster Abbey. Her Majesty was the thirty-ninth Sovereign to be crowned at Westminster Abbey.

    3. Queen Elizabeth II is the sixth Queen to have been crowned in Westminster Abbey in her own right. The first was Queen Mary I, who was crowned on 1 October, 1553.

    4. The Queen succeeded to the Throne on the 6th February, 1952 on the death of King George VI. She was in Kenya at the time and became the first Sovereign in over 200 years to accede while abroad.

    5. The Queen's grandmother, Queen Mary, aged 81 was the first Queen to see a grandchild ascend to the throne. However, she died before the Coronation took place.

    6. The Coronation service used for Queen Elizabeth II descends directly from that of King Edgar at Bath in 973. The original fourteenth-century order of service was written in Latin and was used until the Coronation of Elizabeth I.

    7. The Earl Marshal is responsible for organising the Coronation. Since 1386 the position of Earl Marshal has been undertaken by The Duke of Norfolk. It was the sixteenth Duke of Norfolk who was responsible for The Queen's Coronation (1953). He was also responsible for the State funerals of Sir Winston Churchill (1965), as well as the investiture of The Prince of Wales (1969).

    8. The Queen, with The Duke of Edinburgh, was driven from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach, which was pulled by eight grey geldings: Cunningham, Tovey, Noah, Tedder, Eisenhower, Snow White, Tipperary and McCreery. The Gold State Coach has been used by The Queen twice since her Coronation - at the Silver and Golden Jubilees.

    9. The Coronation Bouquet was presented to The Queen by the Worshipful Company of Gardeners to take with her on the drive to Westminster Abbey. The all-white bouquet comprised orchids and lilies-of-the-valley from England, stephanotis from Scotland, and carnations from Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, with additional orchids from Wales.

    10. The Duke of Edinburgh wore full-dress Naval uniform for the journey to and from the Abbey. While in the Abbey, he wore a coronet and his Duke's robe over his uniform. The Duke's page was Mr Nigel Rees, a Royal Navy Midshipman, who wore a uniform of Edinburgh green.


    The queen in a primrose-yellow hat that matched her suit was out-chapeaued on several fronts. Prince Charles' companion, Camilla Parker Bowles, wore a wide-brimmed number topped by a feathered concoction (not, it's hoped, a recent kill from one of Charles' bird-hunting expeditions).

    Topping Prince Edward's pregnant wife, Sophie: a jumbo top hat that could have come from the prop department for Batman's Joker. And former prime minister Margaret Thatcher made her entrance in a robin's-egg-blue bonnet wrapped in matching ribbon that formed a rose.

    The parade of hats took place in London's Westminster Abbey, where the queen, 77, renewed her coronation vows. About 2,000 members of the public attended, including 34 "coronation babies" who were born on June 2, 1953. Also on hand: Prince William. His brother, Harry, was taking an exam.

    Monday's affair was more subdued than last year's festivities for the Golden Jubilee of the queen's accession to the throne. Elizabeth became monarch on Feb. 6, 1952, after the death of her father, King George VI; her coronation took place in 1953.


    The Queen's Golden Jubilee
    the 50th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen's Accession to the Throne.
    The Royal Insights
    Prince Of Wales
    Golden Jubilee Trust
    The 50th anniversary of The Queen's Coronation was celebrated on 2 June 2003.
    History Of The Monarchy Westminster Abbey
    USA Today - Jun 2, 2003


    Queen Marks Coronation's 50th Anniversary
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