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 program of events to honor 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?
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?
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 symbolized 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 scepters, 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’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 a 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.
Join former BBC Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond to reflect on the Queen’s 70 incredible years on the throne at a platinum jubilee panel event run by The Independent on Thursday 17 May at 6.30pm.
The broadcaster and journalist will be joined by The Independent’s Associate Editor Sean O’Grady, Deputy Voices Editor Sunny Hundal and hosted by Deputy Lifestyle Editor Laura Hampson to explore the highs and lows of her majesty’s seven decades on the throne.
For more information and to sign up for a ticket visit our Eventbrite page.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.