At the age of 25, Princess Elizabeth pledged to remain queen for the rest of her life at her coronation at Westminster Abbey in London on June 2, 1953. Check out 10 little-known facts about the ceremony!
1. Elizabeth is the sixth queen to have been crowned in Westminster Abbey. The first was Queen Mary I, whose coronation was in 1553.
2. Elizabeth’s coronation date was chosen on the advice of meteorologists because, according to statistical records, it was most likely to have good weather. It rained.
3. Though Winston Churchill and other politicians were against it, Elizabeth insisted that the ceremony be broadcast live on TV. It was an historic first for the nation, and many of the 27 million people in the U.K. who watched the ceremony (out of a total population of 36 million) bought their first TV set for the momentous occasion.
4. The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, were driven from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach — pulled by eight gray horses: Cunningham, Tovey, Noah, Tedder, Eisenhower, Snow White, Tipperary and McCreery.
5. The queen’s coronation dress, created by British fashion designer Norman Hartnell, was embellished with the floral emblems of the countries of the Commonwealth (an idea Duchess Meghan later used at her May 2018 wedding to Prince Harry). The gown was so top-secret that it was kept in a guarded room while it was being sewn.
6. Elizabeth held “dress rehearsals” at Buckingham Palace with her six maids of honor using sheets tied together to represent her coronation robes.
7. The St. Edward’s Crown, made in 1661 and placed on the queen’s head during the service, weighs a hefty 4 pounds, 12 ounces and is made of solid gold. Elizabeth herself chose the coronet, which was the same one used in her father King George VI’s coronation 16 years earlier.
8. Four-year-old Prince Charles was the first royal heir in history to attend his mother’s coronation. Princess Anne, 3, was considered too young and had to watch the procession at Buckingham Palace. She later said that she felt frustrated at being left out.
9. Philip was not crowned alongside his bride as wives of kings traditionally are, but he was the first person to pay homage to the queen after the Archbishop of Canterbury, who performed the service.
10. Elizabeth made just one mistake during the three-hour ceremony — she forgot to curtsey to her coronation maids at the northern pillar of Westminster Abbey. Only the Archbishop of Canterbury caught the faux pas.
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