by Susan Flantzer
June 2, 2013 was the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This occasion was marked by a service of celebration at Westminster Abbey on June 4, 2013 at 11 AM attended by The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, and other members of the Royal Family.
The Queen had acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952 upon the death of her father King George VI. She was 25 years old at the time and the mother of two young children under the age of four. Queen Mary, the new queen’s grandmother, died on March 24, 1953. Before her death, Queen Mary insisted that the coronation go on as scheduled on June 2, 1953. The ceremony in Westminster Abbey, with the exception of the anointing and communion, was televised for the first time.
Westminster Abbey was closed for five months prior to the coronation so that the construction needed for 8,000 people to attend could be completed. See the BBC news video for more details:
BBC: Preparing for the Queen’s Coronation
Queen Elizabeth’s coronation gown was designed by her favorite designer, Norman Hartnell, and featured embroidered floral emblems of the Commonwealth countries: English Tudor rose; Scots thistle, Welsh leek, Irish shamrock, Australian wattle, Canadian maple leaf, New Zealand silver fern, South African protea, lotus flowers for India and Ceylon, and Pakistan’s wheat, cotton, and jute.
Wikipedia: Coronation Gown of Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen traveled from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach which was built in 1762 and has been used for the coronation of every monarch since King George IV. It is estimated that 3 million people lined the streets of London that day.
Wikipedia: Gold State Coach
Upon arrival at Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth was attended by six aristocratic young women who served as Maids of Honor. Sixty years later, all six were still alive.
- Lady Moyra Hamilton, 22, daughter of the Marquess of Hamilton, later 4th Duke of Abercorn
- Lady Anne Coke, 20, daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester
- Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 20, daughter of the 8th Marquess of Londonderry
- Lady Mary Baillie-Hamilton, 19, daughter of the 12th Earl of Haddington
- Lady Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 18, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Ancaster
- Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill, 23, daughter of 10th Duke of Marlborough
Daily Mail: They were the aristocratic beauties who almost stole the show at the Coronation 60 years ago. Now they share their behind the scenes stories
BBC: Cecil Beaton’s Coronation Day photograph recreated (video interview with the six maids of honor in 2013)
After the Queen’s procession into Westminster Abbey, the coronation service started.
The Recognition: The Archbishop of Canterbury along with Lord Chancellor, Lord Great Chamberlain, Lord High Constable, and Earl Marshal proceeded to the East, South, West, and North sides of the coronation theater. Each time the Archbishop said, “Sirs, I here present unto you Queen ELIZABETH, your undoubted Queen: Wherefore all you who are come this day to do your homage and service, Are you willing to do the same?” The People replied each time, “God Save Queen Elizabeth.”
The Oath: The Queen, seated in the Chair of Estate, took the Coronation Oath administered by the Archbishop of Canterbury. She then proceeded to the altar and solemnly swore the Oath with her right hand on the Bible. Afterward, she kissed the Bible and signed the Oath.
The Communion Service: Traditional service of the Anglican Church
The Anointing: After being disrobed of her crimson robe, the Queen sat in King Edward’s Chair. Four Knights of the Garter held a canopy over her. The Dean of Westminster took the Ampulla which held the Holy Oil and poured some into the Spoon. The Archbishop then anointed the Queen in the form of a cross on the palms of both hands, the breast, and the crown of the head. The canopy was removed and the Queen was dressed in the Colobium Sindonis, a simple sleeveless white linen shift, and the Supertunica, a long coat of gold silk which reaches to the ankles and has wide-flowing sleeves.
The Presenting of the Spurs and Sword, and the Oblation of the Sword of State: The Spurs were brought from the altar by the Dean of Westminster, and given to the Lord Great Chamberlain who presented them to the Queen. Afterwards, the Spurs were returned to the altar. Next, the Archbishop took the Sword from the altar, and assisted by the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of London and Winchester put the Sword the Queen’s hands and said a prayer. The Queen then went to the altar, returned the sword to its scabbard, and sat down in King Edward’s Chair.
The Investing with the Armills, the Stole Royal and the Robe Royal: and the Delivery of the Orb: The Dean of Westminster delivered the Armills to the Archbishop, who said a prayer while putting them on the Queen’s wrists. The Queen stood and was clothed with the Robe Royal. After she sat down, the Sovereign’s Orb was brought from the altar by the Dean of Westminster and delivered into the Queen’s right hand by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Queen then gave the orb to the Dean of Westminster who returned it to the altar.
The Investiture per annulum, et per sceptrum et baculum: The Keeper of the Jewel House gave the Queen’s Ring, which was set with a sapphire and a ruby cross, to the Archbishop of Canterbury who put it on the fourth finger of the Queen’s right hand, and said a prayer. The Dean of Westminster brought the Sceptre with the Cross and the Rod with the Dove to the Archbishop, who put it in the Queen’s left hand and said a prayer.
The Putting on of the Crown: The people stood up and the Archbishop of Canterbury took St. Edward’s Crown from the altar, then laid it back on the altar, and said a prayer. The Archbishop then proceeded to the Queen who was sitting in King Edward’s Chair. The Dean of Westminster brought him the crown and the Archbishop reverently put the crown on the Queen’s head. The people repeatedly shouted, “God Save The Queen.” The Princes and Princesses, the Peers and Peeresses put on their coronets and caps, and the Kings of Arms their crown. Trumpets sounded, and the great guns at the Tower of London were fired.
The Benediction: Now that the Queen had been anointed and crowned, and had received all the signs of the sovereign, the Archbishop of Canterbury blessed her and all those assembled at Westminster Abbey replied with a loud Amen.
The Enthroning: The Queen went to the throne, and was lifted up into it by the Archbishops and Bishops, and other Peers of the Kingdom. Lords bearing the regalia stood on the steps around the throne.
The Homage: After the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Duke of Edinburgh offered their fealty to the Queen, all princes and peers present did likewise, saying to her, ” I, (name) Duke, or Earl, etc., of (name) do become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks. So help me God.”
The Communion: Queen Elizabeth knelt and took communion, in a service that included a general confession and absolution, and, along with the people, recited the Lord’s Prayer.
The Recess: The Queen proceeded to Saint Edward’s Chapel, gave St. Edward’s Crown and the Sceptre and the Rod to the Archbishop of Canterbury who laid them on the altar in the chapel. The Queen was then the Queen disrobed of the Robe Royal and clothed in a Robe of purple velvet and the Imperial State Crown. The Archbishop of Canterbury put the Sceptre with the Cross into her right hand and the Orb in her left hand. The Queen left the St. Edward’s Chapel to the singing of the National Anthem and then proceeded up the aisle.