Tag Archives: George VI

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.

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 30 (22 – 28 September 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

22 September 1855 The fall of Sebastopol
The Black Sea port of Sebastopol, on the south-west coast of the Crimea, was the main naval base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The capture or destruction of this stronghold became the main military object of the allied armies opposing Russia during the Crimean War. Sebastopol endured an 11-month siege before finally capitulating on 9 September 1855. The loss of Sebastopol was a factor in Russia ceding peace the following year.

“It appears that a month or three weeks ago the Emperor of Russia wrote to the King of Prussia that Nakchamoff [Vice Admiral Nakhimov] reported he would defend Sebastopol as long as the Czar chose. The account of its capture therefore came by surprize upon them… If we can keep a larger force in the Crimea during the winter than the Russians can and I think this must be so, the Russian army will retreat from fear of being cut off…”

MS 62 PP/GC/RU/492 Letter from Lord John Russell to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, 22 September 1855


22 September 1918 The Allied Balkan victory
In September 1918, the Allies (France, Montenegro, Russia and Serbia) succeeded in breaking through on the Macedonian front. Despite being stopped by the Bulgarian force at Dojran, Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria was forced to sue for peace. Bulgaria capitulated and Serbia was liberated.

“Isn’t the news wonderful from this front! I wonder how far our advance will have gone by the time this reaches you. I have it straight from the Staff that that main Turkish force in Palestine has been hopelessly cut up, and it is doubtful whether they will be able to make another stand!”

MS 116/8 AJ 14 Volume of typescript ‘excerpts’ from letters from H.D. Myer, 22 September 1918


23 September 1940  The King and Queen visit the East End
George VI and his wife had resolved to stay in London, despite German bombing raids and, on 13 September, they narrowly avoided death when two German bombs exploded in a courtyard at Buckingham Palace.  In defiance, the Queen famously declared: “I am glad we have been bombed. It makes me feel we can look the East End in the face”. Throughout the war, the King and Queen provided morale-boosting visits throughout the United Kingdom including to bomb sites and munitions factories.

The following extract is from Miss Edith Ramsey’s autobiographical reflections on life in Stepney during the War.  Ramsey had lived in Stepney since 1920 and describes it as the “point of arrival” for Jews in England; prior to the war she worked as the Principal of an evening institute arranging classes for teenagers and adults.

“On 23 September, 1940, King George VI and the Queen, now the beloved Queen Mother, visited Stepney and talked to air raid victims in the wards of the London Hospital.  That day was the 200th anniversary of the meeting in a city tavern, when ‘seven gentlemen foregathered and subscribed 100 Guineas to be used for an intended new infirmary’ – the foundation of the London Hospital.”

MS 116/82 AJ 221 Typescript of “Life in Stepney during World War II, 1939-45” by Edith Ramsey


24 September 1939
Death of Sigmund Freud

“Sigmund Freud died just before midnight last night – one of the great men of all time! The Germans destroyed his works, & stole his property – immortal shame!”

MS 168 AJ 217/35 Journal of Samuel Rich, 24 September 1939


27 September 1810 Battle of Busaco
As part of his plan for the defence of Portugal, Wellington ordered the construction of a series of impenetrable defensive positions in the region around Madrid, known as the Lines of Torres Vedras. Work began in the autumn of 1809 with the first line completed one year later. Following the third French invasion of Portugal in 1810, Wellington’s Anglo-Portuguese army, occupying the heights at Busaco, were able to beat of the French forces on 27 September. Following the battle, Marshal André Masséna found a way round Wellington’s northern flank, forcing the Allied forces to fall back behind the lines. However, Wellington’s scorched earth policy meant that the French army would soon be brought to a standstill in a barren land. As indicated in the below passage, the real threat facing the invading French force would be starvation.

“We have been engaged with the enemy for the last three days, and I think we shall be attacked again to-morrow; as I understand they must carry our position, on which, however, they have as yet made no impression, or starve.”

WP1/312/310 Copy of a letter from Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley, first Viscount Wellington, Convent of Busaco, to Charles Stuart, British envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Portugal, 27 September 1810