Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was one of the biggest events of the 20th century. It took place on the 2nd June 1953 and was watched by people across the world.
King George’s death
King George VI died on 6th February 1952 of lung cancer. Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were in Kenya when he died, and they immediately came back to the UK once they were made aware of his death.
After World War 2, the UK government had piled up lots of debt which it needed to pay back. To do this, the government needed to spend less on government departments and programmes. Rationing of food and other items was still in place until 1953. Elizabeth’s coronation was a time when this austerity started to be rolled back.
Once the funeral for George VI had taken place, plans for Elizabeth’s coronation began to be formed. The UK government set aside £21 million for the coronation ceremony. It was decided that the coronation would happen in the summer of 1953 – meaning that everyone had 18 months to plan for what would happen on the day.
The coronation of a king or queen is mostly a religious ceremony. The ceremony itself mainly takes place in Westminster Abbey, which is a large church.
Because everyone involved wanted to keep the exact coronation plans secret, sketches of what Elizabeth wanted to wear were sent to Buckingham Palace. She wanted all the symbols of the Commonwealth countries to be on her robe. Commonwealth countries include India, New Zealand and Canada.
The big day
On 2nd June 1953, Elizabeth II’s coronation took place. Millions of people watched the coronation on television sets. Because TVs were expensive at the time, many people went round to a friend or family member’s house to watch the coronation, with as many as 17 people gathered around one small TV. 20 million people watched the coronation around the world.
People across the country also held street parties to celebrate the coronation with family and friends.