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70 years: The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

Authored by Alice Broome
Published on 2nd June, 2023 2 min read

70 years: The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

Today (02/06/2023) marks 70 years since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Despite acceding to the throne on the 6th of February 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI, Elizabeth’s coronation was delayed by more than a year due to the unexpected nature of the King’s death. Her coronation, therefore, took place on the 2nd of June the following year, when Elizabeth was aged 27.

The coronation was conducted at Westminster Abbey by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher. In fact, Elizabeth II was the thirty-ninth Sovereign, and the sixth Queen, to be crowned at Westminster Abbey – it has been the setting for every coronation since that of King Harold II in 1066. For her journey to Westminster Abbey, Elizabeth carried an all-white bouquet symbolic of the United Kingdom. It contained orchids and lilies-of-the-valley from England, stephanotis from Scotland, carnations from Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, and additional orchids from Wales.

At Elizabeth’s request, her coronation became the first to be broadcast on television, as well as radio, resulting in 27 million people across Britain watching the ceremony and a further 11 million people tuning in via radio. Elizabeth also made a radio broadcast to the Commonwealth on the eve of her coronation. Here, she pledged her devotion to her new role and to the people she now served as Queen.

Following the coronation service, a procession began through London covering 7.2 kilometres and including 29,200 participants either in the procession or lining the route. These were drawn from the Royal Navy; the Army; the RAF; the Commonwealth; the Empire; the Royal Military Police; and other police officers from 75 provincial forces.

Central to this royal spectacle was the use of lavish and luxurious items, including the Queen’s white satin dress, designed by Normal Hartnell, and which included embroidered emblems of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth. The Queen wore the dress a further six times, such as at receptions at Buckingham Palace and at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. She also wore it at the openings of Parliament in New Zealand, Australia, and Ceylon. Also included in the ceremony were St Edward’s Chair, crafted in 1300; St Edward’s solid gold Crown, weighing 4 pounds and 12 ounces; and the Orb, made from gold, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphire, pearls and a large amethyst.

Queen Elizabeth II went on to rule for a total of 70 years and 214 days before her passing on 8th September 2022 aged 96. This makes her the longest-reigning British monarch and the longest-verified reigning female head of state in history.

Authored by Alice Broome

Alice Broome

Alice Broome is an Editorial Assistant at British Online Archives. She is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics graduate from the University of York.

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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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