When was the Queen’s coronation?

·3 min read
Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by Prince Philip on the day of her coronation in 1953 (INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP via Getty )
Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by Prince Philip on the day of her coronation in 1953 (INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP via Getty )

As the country gears up to celebrate 70 years of the Queen’s reign - the first time in British history that a monarch has reached this milestone - many people are reflecting on the Queen’s years of service.

A programme of events to honour the 96-year-old have been scheduled across an extended bank holiday in early June, known as the platinum jubilee celebrations.

Scheduled events include a platinum jubilee concert, Trooping the Colour, a pageant and a Service of Thanksgiving.

But when was the Queen’s coronation and what did it involve? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is a coronation?

The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to mark the coronation (AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to mark the coronation (AFP via Getty Images)

A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch with regal power.

As well as being an occasion for celebration and pageantry, it is also a solemn religious ceremony that has remained essentially the same for over a thousand years.

For the last 900 years, the ceremony has taken place at London’s Westminster Abbey. The service is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose task this has almost always been since the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Representatives of the Houses of Parliament, church and state attend the event, along with prime ministers and leading citizens from the Commonwealth and representatives of other countries.

When was the Queen’s coronation?

The Queen and Prince Philip in the horse-drawn carriage on the way to Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953 (INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP via Getty)
The Queen and Prince Philip in the horse-drawn carriage on the way to Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953 (INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP via Getty)

In 1937, 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth watched her father, King George VI, being crowned in the elaborate ceremony.

Sixteen years later on 2 June 1953, her own official coronation took place. She was just 27-years-old.

At this stage, Queen Elizabeth II had already been serving as the head of the British royal family for 16 months, following the death of her father at the age of 56 from coronary thrombosis on 6 February 1952.

The service began at 11.15am and lasted almost three hours.

​​A total of 8,251 guests attended the ceremony, with 129 nations and territories officially represented at the service.

The first ever coronation to be televised, it was watched by 27 million people in the UK alone (out of a population of 36 million), and millions more around the world.

What does the sovereign promise to do during a coronation?

The incoming sovereign promises to rule according to law, to exercise justice with mercy - promises symbolised by the four swords in the coronation regalia (the Crown Jewels) - and to maintain the Church of England.

The sovereign is then “anointed, blessed and consecrated” by the Archbishop, whilst the monarch is seated in King Edward's chair (made in 1300, and used by every sovereign since 1626).

After receiving the orb and sceptres, the Archbishop places St Edward's Crown on the sovereign's head. After homage is paid by the Archbishop of Canterbury and senior peers, Holy Communion is celebrated.

What did the Queen wear at her coronation?

The Queen wore a dress designed by British fashion designer Norman Hartnell (AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen wore a dress designed by British fashion designer Norman Hartnell (AFP via Getty Images)

​​The Queen's coronation dress, designed by British fashion designer Norman Hartnell, was made of white satin and embroidered with the emblems of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in gold and silver thread.

Since the coronation, the Queen has worn the coronation dress six times including the Opening of Parliament in New Zealand and Australia in 1954.

The Duke of Edinburgh wore full-dress naval uniform for the journey to and from the Abbey. While in the Abbey, he wore a coronet and his Duke's robe over his uniform.