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Culture Re-View: Five surprising facts for the anniversary of Elizabeth II's coronation

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh wave to supporters from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, following her coronation at Westminster Abbey
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh wave to supporters from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, following her coronation at Westminster Abbey Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Jonny Walfisz
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2 June 1953: Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation


Just over 70 years before King Charles III’s coronation put Britain at standstill, his mother dealt with the same process. Just as with Charles, Elizabeth II’s coronation came the year after she officially acceded to the throne.

In Elizabeth’s case, her father George VI had died suddenly on 6 February 1952. Elizabeth was just 25 years old when she became the Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms.

In under a year, we’ve had Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, celebrating her 70 years on the throne, followed by her death and then the coronation of her son, Charles. Given that, instead of running over the basics once again, let’s go over some of the lesser known facts about Elizabeth II’s coronation, which took place on this day in history in 1953.

Surrounded by peers and churchmen, Queen Elizabeth II sits on throne in Westminister Abbey, London, June 2, 1953 after her coronation.AP/AP1953
  • Elizabeth was in Kenya when King George VI died

Sounds innocuous enough. Royals regularly travel abroad to do their royal duties. However, the fact that Elizabeth was abroad on the day she became Queen by default makes her the first royal in over 200 years to not be in the UK when she acceded.

  • The dress Elizabeth wore was designed by Norman Hartnell

Norman Hartnell was a British fashion designer who is most famous for the clothes he made for the royal family. Although he’s most known for his royal designs, his work has also featured in many films, including the costumes Katherine Hepburn wore in 1959’s Suddenly, Last Summer.

  • The Queen wore her coronation dress on six other occasions

Our anti-fast-fashion Queen. Elizabeth knew how to make a dress last. Not content with Hartnell’s design getting stuck in a museum, she also wore it to the opening of parliaments in New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Canada in the 1950s.

AP/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wearing the bejeweled Imperial Crown and carrying the Orb and Scepter with Cross, leaves Westminster Abbey, London, at the end of her coronationAP/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
  • The anointing oils had to be replaced due to a bombing

A key part of the coronation ceremony is when the new sovereign is anointed with special oils. The oils, which contained a delightful selection of ingredients including orange, roses, cinnamon, musk and ambergris, are usually part of a batch made to last multiple coronations. During the Second World War, a bomb hit the Deanery and destroyed the phial, so a new batch was made.

  • Oxen were roasted, but only with a permit

At the time of Elizabeth’s coronation, there was still food rationing due to the last decade’s war effort. However, for people celebrating at home who wanted a taste of delicious ox, there was a loophole. The Ministry of Food promised to grant a licence to roast an ox if it could be proven that the local area had traditionally done so for previous coronations. 82 local authorities had applications approved for that licence by the day. Tuck in!

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