A new King and Queen are crowned

On 12 May 1937 the coronation took place of George VI and Queen Elizabeth as King and Queen at Westminster Abbey.

guest list of the royal family and of other royal and other representatives MS 62 MB1/A112

Front cover of guest list of the royal family and of other royal and representatives [MS 62 MB1/A112]

The King and Queen’s daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Margaret, attended the ceremony, together with the Dowager Queen Mary. Also invited were members of the extended royal family, members of the peerage and Members of Parliament. Lord and Lady Louis Mountbatten and Patricia Mountbatten were amongst those who attended, with Lord Louis Mountbatten riding in the processions behind the state coach to and from Westminster Abbey. The guest list further included royals and representatives or ambassadors from across the world, such as Prince and Princess Chichibu of Japan, monarchs of the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland, Yugoslavia, leading colonial administrators, princes from the Indian states. Invitations were issued to representatives of the trade unions and co-operative societies, such as Lizzie McCulloch, a factory worker from Glasgow, one of four people who received an invitation through the Industrial Welfare Society.

Official souvenir coronation programme [MS 62 MB1/A113]

Official souvenir coronation programme [MS 62 MB1/A113]

The coronation is probably the oldest ceremonial in the UK and the earliest preserved coronation ritual dates from the eighth century. All the principal rites of the present coronations — the recognition, the oath taken by the sovereign, the anointing, investiture and crowning — are to be found in the Saxon rituals. The recognition recalls the time when the monarch was presented to their bishops and peers and acknowledged as King by their acclamations. The anointing of the King, which is seen as a pivotal point of the ceremony, culminating in the crowning, represents the sacred as well as the civil office to which the monarch is admitted. Following the crowning by the monarch, for which the St Edward’s Crown is used, the King receives the homage of his spiritual and temporal peers. Once completed, this is followed by the Queen’s coronation, a shortened form of the ceremony, which also can be traced to Saxon times.

The King was arrayed in a robe of purple velvet and the Crown of State, instead of the St Edward’s Crown, for the state procession with the Queen from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace in the state coach.

State coach [MS 62 MB2/L21]

State coach [MS 62 MB2/L21]

Timed to leave Westminster Abby at 2.15pm, the route for this state procession in 1937 was considerably longer than that for George V in 1911. Bands were stationed along the route and detachments from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF and reserves, together with representatives from the Indian Army and Navy and contingents from the dominions, took part.

Royal Navy as part of coronation procession [MS 62 MB2/L19]

Royal Navy as part of coronation procession [MS 62 MB2/L19]

The streets of London along the procession route were thronged with people hoping to catch a glimpse of their new monarch. It was a time of great celebration and a day to remember for all those who watched, and the millions who listened to the new monarch make a radio address that evening.

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