I recently had an audience with the Queen.
With Helen Mirren (if we’re being picky) who played the Queen in the spectacular production call The Audience.
The most moving part of the whole play for me was at the end of Act 1. The soaring music, the frailty of the woman, the greatness of the office, the symbolism and the sacrifice:
“The fall-on-your-knees investiture scene …in which the 25-year-old Elizabeth is robed and anointed and crowned as Queen — At moments like this, we are all the adoring subjects of this Queen.”
—Marilyn Stasio of Variety
So I wanted to celebrate that day and honor her.
Today, in 1953, in Westminster Abbey, the young princess Elizabeth became Queen – she was 25.
After being handed the four symbols of authority – the orb, the sceptre, the rod of mercy and the royal ring of sapphire and rubies – the Archbishop of Canterbury placed St Edward’s Crown on her head.
Three million people lined the streets of London as the new Queen made her way from Buckingham Palace in the golden state coach. Over 20 million people watched the service. It was broadcast in 44 languages.
And yes yes but what about her dress?
Norman Hartnell was commissioned by the Queen to design Elizabeth’s dress. The white silk dress was embroidered with the floral emblems of the countries of the Commonwealth at the time:
the Tudor rose of England
the Scots thistle
the Welsh leek
Irish shamrock for Northern Ireland
the wattle of Australia
the maple leaf of Canada
the New Zealand fern
South Africa‘s protea
two lotus flowers for India and Ceylon
and Pakistan‘s wheat, cotton, and jute
(and finally–what the Queen didn’t know–just incase I guess: a lucky four-leaf clover was embroidered on the dress’ left side, where Elizabeth’s hand would touch throughout the day)
What a glorious attention to detail–most of which no one would notice or ever even see. Which somehow makes me think of creation and all those beautiful details God seems to delight in that are so small, or hidden away, that hardly anyone might ever even hardly notice.
There was a shortage of professional coachmen to help transport dignitaries to Westminster Abbey in horse drawn carriages. So country squires and millionaire businessmen offered their services. They became servants for the day. They dressed up as Buckingham Palace servants and helped take people to the ceremony. Just like a fairytale.
Which somehow also makes me think of that King of all Kings who became a servant…
Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure: the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. (It was the rainiest June in history–and somewhere in that waving crowd, having waited for hours, was a young girl waving to her queen. My mother.)
Happy Coronation Day, Your Majesty!