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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 AbbeyAugstein/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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.


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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.

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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.

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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 Edinburgh Is Welcomed By The16th Duke Of NorfolkEvening Standard/Npa Rota/REX/Shutterstock

The Duke of Norfolk helped organize the coronation

The Duke of Norfolk was also responsible for the State funeral of Sir Winston Churchill and the investiture of The Prince of Wales.

'A Queen is Crowned' Documentary FilmITV/REX/Shutterstock

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

Queen Elizabeth Ii Accompanied by Her Maids of HonourHistoria/REX/Shutterstock

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's gownHistoria/REX/Shutterstock

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.

Queen Elizabeth Ii 1953 cover of the sphereHistoria/REX/Shutterstock

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 Queen's ProcessionDaily Mail/REX/Shutterstock

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.

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The coronation service lasted nearly three hours


It began at 11:15 a.m.

Queen Elizabeth Ii Wearing A Fur StoleHistoria/REX/Shutterstock

The Queen wore the George IV State Diadem

The Diadem was made for George IV in 1820, but Queen Elizabeth II wore it on her coronation. She wears the same diadem today when traveling to and from the State Opening of Parliament.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Queen Elizabeth Ii and Prince Charles Prince of WalesHistoria/REX/Shutterstock

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.

Prince CharlesHerbert Mason/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock

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.

The Mall in London Absolutely Packed with VisitorsHistoria/REX/Shutterstock

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.

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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.

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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.

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Millions watched    

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.

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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).

The Golden State Coach Passing Under the the Great ArchesHistoria/REX/Shutterstock

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.

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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 Also Known As King Edward's ChairHistoria/REX/Shutterstock

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.

Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee galleriesNils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock

The crown

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.

Orb with CrossNils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock

The orb

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.

Coronation RegaliaHistoria/REX/Shutterstock

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.”

This map show the routes for the coronation processionAP/REX/Shutterstock

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.

Imperial State CrownNils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock

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.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II WITH HER ATTENDANTSRobert Hunt Library/REX/Shutterstock

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.

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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.

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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 with rice saladElizabeth Clarkson/REX/Shutterstock

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.
Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.