Memorable moments from Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation ceremony

Witnessing the coronation of King Charles III will be a first for many around the world. However for some this is the second or even the third coronation. Three people who attended the grand ceremony in 1953 recalled some memories of the day, the BBC reported.

“It was pouring rain… the baker had to take me to the station”

Eva Morris

Eve Morris, 17 during Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, said it was pouring with rain and “everyone was in rain gear”. She had gone to work in a pastel dress and a white hat on that historic day.
Morris revealed to the BBC that his family didn’t own a car, “So the baker had to drive me to the train station,” she says.

Eve apprenticed to the stylist Sir Norman Hartnell’s workshop in Mayfair. Sir Norman, being Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite couturier, was commissioned to create her coronation dress. Known for her excellent use of embroidery, he designed his wedding dress.

That same day, Eve had a needle and thread in her purse. “If someone missed a button or dropped a stitch, I was there to do it, but unfortunately that never happened,” Eve says.

He further recalled receiving a letter from the Duke of Norfolk saying, “Please take some sandwiches and a hip flask with you as coffee will not be available.”

Eve got a great view of the Queen in her finery from across the royal box at Abbey. It was a “lovely position,” she recalls, “really better than a seat.”

Eve had been working as a runner in the lab before the big day. “I had to go to the warehouse to find suitable silks to match the embroidery,” Eve says.

Eve, now 87, will keep her eyes peeled for King Charles III’s coronation gowns. “I’m going to be more critical than most,” she says. Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation dress ‘beats out all other dresses lately’. She watches Eve.

“The timing didn’t quite go to plan… Queen arrived a little early”

Gavin Ross

From 1685, the task of announcing the new monarch at Westminster Abbey fell to the scholars of the school. Gavin Ross knew he would play a 15-year-old Westminster schoolboy role on the big day.

“In 1902, Edward VII wanted a proper coronation with good music, and so the composer, Hubert Parry, composed the hymn, ‘I was Glad,’ says Gavin. Halfway through, the piece of music stops and the scholars they shout “Vivat!” to acclaim the new king or queen. The same piece of music was used in 1953

Gavin remembers arriving two hours before the ceremony was due to start. He was taken to the triforium, the gallery high above the floor of the abbey, “60 feet (18 m) high on the right side above the throne,” he says.

“Even though there were 40 of us,” says Gavin, being so high up, “it wouldn’t necessarily be heard very well unless we yelled really loud.”

Gavin recalls that the timing didn’t quite go as planned. “The Queen came in a little early to the music,” Gavin says, “so she was already in well enough before we shouted… Vivat Regina Elizabetha!”

There was real optimism at the time, says Gavin. It was post-war and with a young queen on the throne “rationing was over [for some products] and various things were opening up, opportunities for people, and it was a different world than today,” he says.

Westminster Abbey has published the words and music to the Vivat Cheers and, for the first time, they will be sung by both girls and boys. Now that he’s 85, Gavin will be keeping an eye out for this particular part of King Charles’s coronation.

‘Childhood memories of the day include ‘beautiful scrambled egg’ for breakfast’

Sir Simon

The coronation of King Charles III will be the third to be attended by Sir Simon Bowes-Lyon.

She was just four years old in 1937 when she attended the coronation of George VI and her aunt, Queen Elizabeth. Sir Simon’s childhood memories of the day include “very nice scrambled egg” for breakfast and “golden carriage and all the horses”.

In 1953, at the age of 20, he was invited to Westminster Abbey to see his first cousin, Queen Elizabeth II, crowned. Initially, he was asked to be an usher and, according to his instructions, he would have to pay for travel, accommodation and buy a golden cane to carry, the BBC reported.

“You had to pay two guineas for your golden cane,” he says.

The dress code was formal. “Court dress is velvet coat and breeches, with cut steel buttons, a frill and a white waistcoat,” says Sir Simon. “He’s very, very smart.”

After the service was over, Sir Simon and his sister returned to their London flat, changed and joined the “cheerful and noisy crowd” who cheered and waved flags in the streets. He also saw the newly crowned queen appear on the balcony of the palace.

With the coronation service lasting nearly three hours, a comfortable chair was a necessity. His family was able to purchase some mementos of the 1937 and 1953 coronations, including the chairs the family had sat in at Westminster Abbey. “They are very comfortable,” says Sir Simon. His family also bought some of the carpet that had been used on the Abbey steps.

“I think we replaced it about 10 years ago, so it would have lasted 60 years,” he says. “But things have to last so long here. We don’t replace carpets unless it’s necessary.”
Now 90, Sir Simon hopes King Charles III’s coronation ‘gives rise to much celebration’.


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