Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the Throne on 6th February 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI. However the 1 day celebration of the Coronation required a further 16 months of careful preparation.
The crowning of the Sovereign is an ancient ceremony, rich in religious significance, historic associations and pageantry. For the last 900 years, it has taken place at Westminster Abbey as the royal church for the Palace of Westminster. Before the Abbey was built, Coronations were carried out wherever was convenient, for example at Bath, Oxford and Canterbury.
When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on 2nd June 1953 she became the 39th Sovereign and 6th Queen to be crowned at Westminster Abbey. Although the 3 hour ceremony was steeped in history, for the new Queen many parts of the day were markedly different from previous occasions. In particular and at the insistence of the Queen herself, her Coronation was the first to be televised. Indeed it was the world's first major international event to be broadcast on television.
The Queen's grandmother, Queen Mary, aged 81 was the first Queen to see a grandchild ascend to the throne, but sadly died before the Coronation. Prince Charles also created history when he became the first child to witness his mother's Coronation as Sovereign, having received a special hand-painted children's invitation. Princess Anne did not attend the ceremony as she was considered too young.
Perhaps she joined an estimated 27 million across Britain, from a population of just 36 million, who watched the Coronation live; many crowding around neighbours sets to watch television for the very first time.
Attended by a total of 8,251 guests representing 129 nations and territories, this was an enormous occasion. The return route to Buckingham Palace was designed especially so that The Queen and her procession could be seen by as many people in London as possible. The 7.2 kilometre route took the 16,000 participants two hours to complete. The procession itself stretched for 3 kilometres. Those on foot marched 10 abreast while those on horseback were 6 abreast. An estimated 3 million spectators gathered in the streets of London, along a route lined with sailors, soldiers, and airmen and women from across the Commonwealth.
The Queen's Coronation dress was made by Mr Norman Hartnell. The dress was made of white satin embroidered with the emblems of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The dress's exquisite embroidery in gold and silver thread and pastel-coloured silks was encrusted with seed pearls and crystals to create a lattice-work effect. Since the Coronation, The Queen has worn the dress six times; at receptions at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse and for the Opening of Parliament in New Zealand (1954), Australia (1954), Ceylon (1954) and Canada (1957).
The St. Edward's Crown, made in 1661, was the crown placed on the head of The Queen during the Coronation service. It weighs 4 pounds and 12 ounces and is made of solid gold. The crown in its current form was first used by Charles II as it had to be redesigned after the Restoration. It was refurbished from an old crown and there is speculation that the lower part might be from Edward the Confessor's crown.
After the crown, the orb, also made in 1661, was the most important piece of regalia. It is a globe of gold surrounded by a cross girdled by a band of diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphire and pearls with a large amethyst at the summit.
The Coronation ring, often referred to as 'The Wedding Ring of England' was worn by The Queen on the fourth finger of her right hand in accordance with tradition. The ring was made for the Coronation of King William IV in 1831 and takes the form of a sapphire surmounted by a cross in rubies surrounded by diamonds. It was made at a cost of £157 and has been worn at every coronation since then with the exception of Queen Victoria. Her fingers were so small that the ring could not be reduced far enough in size, so a special Coronation ring had to be worn.
The Queen appeared with her family on the balcony of the palace still wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Royal Robes to greet the cheering crowds. The Queen appeared again on the balcony at Buckingham Palace at 9.45 pm to turn on the 'lights of London'. Lights cascaded down the Mall from the Palace, lighting the huge cipher on Admiralty Arch and turning the fountains in Trafalgar Square into liquid silver, until all the floodlights from the National Gallery to the Tower of London had been illuminated.
65p Queen Elizabeth II leaving Buckingham Palace for her Coronation at Westminster Abbey, London.
75p Queen Elizabeth II is seen through the window of the royal carriage after being crowned at Westminster Abbey in London.
£1 Queen Elizabeth II on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
£1.20 Queen Elizabeth II poses with the Royal Sceptre after being crowned at Westminster Abbey in London.
The stamps will be released on 22th July.