40 Fascinating Facts About Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation
The Queen’s coronation took place on June 2, 1953 at Westminster Abbey. Read on to learn little-known facts about this historical day.
Westminster Abbey has been the setting for every coronation since 1066
Coronations always take place at Westminster Abbey, but before the abbey’s creation they were carried out in Bath, Oxford, or Canterbury—wherever was most convenient. Don’t miss the foods Queen Elizabeth II eats every day.
Her coronation date was reportedly chosen based on the weather
Queen Elizabeth II was crowned 65 years ago on June 2, 1953. Meteorologists advised the then soon-to-be queen that June 2 was statistically the most likely to have good weather. Unfortunately, it rained.
Queen Elizabeth II succeeded to the throne while abroad
On February 6, 1952—the day her father, King George VI, died—Queen Elizabeth II was in Kenya. She became the first sovereign in over 200 years to accede to the throne while abroad.
The Queen’s coronation service mimicked that of King Edgar at Bath
The original order of service was written in Latin and was used until the coronation of Elizabeth I.
The Duke of Norfolk helped organize the coronation
Evening Standard/Npa Rota/REX/Shutterstock
The Duke of Norfolk was also responsible for the State funeral of Sir Winston Churchill and the investiture of The Prince of Wales.
Eight grey horses pulled Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to Westminster Abbey
The horses pulling the Gold State Coach were named Cunningham, Tovey, Noah, Tedder, Eisenhower, Snow White, Tipperary, and McCreery. See more rare photos of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Her bouquet combined flowers from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man
The Queen held a mix of white flowers including orchids, lilies-of-the-valley, stephanotis, orchids, and carnations. Here are the most bizarre perks of the royals.
Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation dress was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell—where he hid a good-luck charm
Sir Hartnell helped the Queen create a gorgeous gown of satin encrusted with pearls, sequins, and crystals. What Queen Elizabeth didn’t know is that Sir Hartnell included an extra four-leaf shamrock on the left side of her skirt, People reports.
The Queen has worn her coronation dress six times
She wore the dress several times, including to the opening of Parliament in New Zealand and Australia in 1954.
The Buckingham Palace workers watched the Queen leave
Chefs, gardeners, and housemaids gathered inside the Grand Hall at Buckingham Palace to watch the Queen ride to Westminster Abbey.
The coronation service lasted nearly three hours
It began at 11:15 a.m.
Church leaders, Commonwealth Prime Ministers, and members of the Royal Household were all part of the procession
A total of 250 people made up the Sovereign’s procession.
A representative of another church took part in the service for the first time
Although the Archbishop of Canterbury conducted the service, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland also took part.
There were six parts to the coronation
First, there was the recognition, then the oath, the anointing, the investiture, and then enthronement. Here is the one royal tradition Queen Elizabeth II breaks.
The Queen had a new batch of Anointing Oil
Traditionally, the Anointing Oil is made to last for several coronations. However, in May 1941 a bomb hit the Deanery thus destroying the vial. A new batch was made with a mix of olive oil, jasmine, musk and other scents.
Prince Charles was the first child to witness his mother’s coronation as Sovereign
Princess Anne was not allowed to attend given her young age.
The young Prince Charles also received his own hand-painted invitation
The four-year-old Prince Charles received a special pencil and watercolor illustration on his invite.
A total of 8,251 guests attended Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation ceremony
The guest list, of course, included various members of royalty as well as representatives of foreign states, the London Gazette reports.
Representatives from 129 nations were at the service
Queen Elizabeth II is known for traveling more extensively than any other British monarch, so it is fitting so many foreign individuals were in attendance. Find out how many places are named after Queen Elizabeth II.
The coverage was groundbreaking
Why, you ask? Because it was the first coronation to be televised. BBC covered the event, and for many viewers, it was their first time watching a live event on television.
Over 27 million people watched the event live on television in Britain and 11 million listened on the radio. Millions more watched in the United States.
Many reporters covered it
More than 2,000 journalists and 500 photographers from 92 different nations covered the coronation. One of the journalists covering the event was Jackie Bouvier (better known as future first lady Jackie Kennedy).
Some people camped out to catch a glimpse of the Queen
Many people set up camp on The Mall, a street in Westminster, to watch the Queen during her procession. Even though it had been raining, some people camped out all night. If you get confused by all of the names in the royal family, here’s a family tree that explains it all.
Almost 30,000 men worked the ceremony
Members of the Royal Navy, the Army, and the Royal Air Force helped to keep the ceremony safe. Men from the Commonwealth, the Colonies, as well as members of the royal family police, and police from all over were also on duty.
The coronation chair
Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in St. Edward’s chair. It was originally made for King Edward I and has been used for over 700 years at every coronation since. It permanently sits in front of the High Altar at Westminster Abbey.
The crown that was placed on the Queen’s head during her coronation was St. Edward’s crown. It was originally made for Charles II in 1661 as a replacement for the medieval crown. It is made of solid gold and semi-precious jewels making it weigh a little over 4 pounds.
Another important piece of regalia from the coronation is the orb. It is seen as the second most authoritative monarchical symbol after the crown. Just like the crown, it was made for Charles II’s coronation in 1661. It represents “Christ’s dominion over the world” and the design is symbolic of the three continents that the medieval rulers believed existed.
The Wedding Ring of England
During her coronation, the “Wedding Ring of England” was placed on the Queen’s fourth finger on her right hand. The archbishop was in charge of placing it on her hand and it serves as a symbol of “kingly dignity.”
The coronation route took two hours to complete
The route was designed so that as many people as possible could see the Queen on her coronation day. It was a total of 4.5 miles long and was made up of 16,000 participants. These are the etiquette rules that everyone in the royal family must follow.
On her return to Buckingham Palace, she had an important piece of history with her
When the Queen was returning to Buckingham Palace, she wore the Imperial State Crown. It contained four pearls that were believed to have been earrings of Queen Elizabeth I.
She also wore an unbelievable robe
Another item Queen Elizabeth II was sporting on her return to Buckingham Palace was the Purple Robe of Estates. The Queen chose to have a new robe commissioned just for her. It was embroidered with wheat leaves and olive branches and it took more than 3,500 hours to complete. Twelve seamstresses completed the job using 18 different types of gold thread.
The Queen greeted the cheering crowds on the balcony at Buckingham Palace
She appeared on the balcony with her family still wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Royal Robes after the procession reached Buckingham Palace.
She came out again to turn on the “lights of London”
The Queen came out onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace a second time on the day of her coronation at 9:45 p.m. Lights illuminated The Mall, Admiralty Arch, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, and the Tower of London.
Coronation chicken was invented for the occasion
British florist Constance Spry suggested a recipe of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a salad of rice, green beans, and mixed herbs to feed to foreign guests after the coronation. That recipe was chosen and ever since, it has been known as Coronation Chicken. Don’t miss the 9 foods Queen Elizabeth II never eats.
Cecil Beaton took the most memorable photograph of the day
There were hundreds of photographers capturing the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, but Cecil Beaton took the winning shot. The image was of the Queen in front of a backdrop of Henry VII’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey. You will never, ever hear the royal family say these 8 words.
The artist for the coronation was Feliks Topolski
Feliks Topolski, a Polish artist, documented the coronation in a painting made up of 14 sections, each over three feet high at a total of 95 feet long.
Some didn’t want the event to be televised
Many political figures, including Sir Winston Churchill, didn’t want the coronation to be televised. But the Queen decided that she wanted it to be televised, so, obviously, it was.
Her gown was top secret
The gown mentioned earlier that Queen Elizabeth II wore was kept top secret until the day of her coronation. Police guarded the room where the Royal School of Needlework was sowing the dress.
The Queen only made one mistake during the ceremony
She forgot to curtsey with her Maids of Honor at the north pillar of Westminster Abbey. Luckily, no one notice except the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ceremony went on smoothly. Next, learn 8 more fascinating facts and a few scandals about Queen Elizabeth II.