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.
3 million people lined the streets of London as the new Queen made her way to and from Buckingham Palace in the golden state coach. Over 20 million people watched the BBC coverage of the coronation–which was broadcast in 44 languages.
But here are two fascinating things I didn’t quite know. First of all the 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 ever notice or even see.
The other thing is this. 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. Wow. Just like a fairytale.
For your viewing pleasure: the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Happy Coronation Day, Your Majesty!