The Coronation: Crowns, carriages and class

February 2, 2018

 

Whether you are an ardent monarchist or a fervent republican, one fact is undeniable—crowns and those who wear them have been part of history since biblical times.


In a new documentary starring Queen Elizabeth II, the role of the crown, its significance and what’s behind the pomp and ceremony are explored, as Her Majesty sits down with historian Alastair Bruce to watch a film of her own coronation that happened 65 years ago.


We non-royal people might celebrate a big anniversary by watching an old grainy home-made movie of Granny’s wedding, or in more modern times, a slick DVD of Cousin Jenny’s big bash a couple of years ago, but a royal coronation is something about which we have little behind-the-scenes knowledge.


The Coronation is set to change all that, as the Queen and Bruce chat away, passing comment on what they are seeing, and filling us in on the detail of what it all really feels like. It’s a very proper British fly-on-the-wall documentary, but none the less entertaining despite the formality.


There’s an interesting insight into how this woman prepared for a life wearing the crown of England from the age of 11, with a sweet story of how the young Lilibet wrote an account of her father King George VI’s coronation, just for the family.


In this touching childhood memoir, the young Elizabeth recalls that on coronation day she leapt out of bed and her assessment of her father’s coronation was “I thought it all very wonderful…the arches and beams at the top were covered with a sort of haze of wonder as Papa was crowned.”


No wonder the pomp and ceremony made such an impact on the girl who would be queen.


Fast forward to her own coronation in 1953, which was another dazzling affair, and she recalls that the golden carriage, which looked so impressive, was incredibly uncomfortable to ride in as it was only sprung on leather. Her one word assessment of the drive around London in that carriage is succinct—“horrible!”


And then there was the all-important crown etiquette, where she comments on the immense weight of the crown, and the technique for wearing the crown and reading a speech, which is to bring the speech up to the eyes and never bend the head. The weight of the crown is such that she was worried she would snap her neck if she lowered her eyes to the speech.


In classic understated British humour, the Queen quips that “there are some disadvantages to the crown, but otherwise they are quite important things!”


Anyone who enjoys a look behind the scenes at a way of life we don’t normally see will enjoy this informative and entertaining documentary.


And that reference to crowns having been important since biblical times?


“Then he brought out the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they proclaimed him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, “Long live the king!” (2 Kings, chapter 11, verse 2).


Or queen.

 

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