Monday, 2 June 2008
55 Years ago:
Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia
For the Queen's 50th Coronation Jubilee the Australian Post issued the stamps shown above. Like all stamps giving reference to our sovereign, they were quickly sold out and are now precious collectors' items. This year's 55th coronation anniversary did not get as much attention as the Golden Jubilee one - very much as the Queen herself wanted it. Only in March this year, she cancelled a diamond wedding anniversary party, because of Britain's economic downturn. The party, for 60 close friends and relatives to celebrate her 60 years of marriage to Prince Philip, was due to take place at the Ritz in London. The Queen felt it would be "inappropriate", as the United Kingdom faced a recession. Although the party was planned and paid for by friends of the royal couple, she was thought it would have appeared insensitive at a time when people are tightening their belts.
The Queen was crowned on 2nd June 1953. This event was the focus for major pageantry and celebrations in Britain and throughout the Commonwealth. The files listed here illustrate some of the arrangements made by the Australian government in association with the event. Australia was invited to have representatives present at the ceremony itself and many celebrations in honour of the coronation occurred concurrently throughout Australia.
Amidst the official celebrations and ceremonies in London, 7 000 seats with a view of the coronation procession were allocated to Australians who would be in London for the event. Within Westminster Abbey itself, 250 seats were reserved for official Australian representatives. Within its official contingent, the Australian Government sent 250 representatives of the armed forces and seven parliamentary delegates to the coronation festivities.
Personal account of the Coronation by Harold Holt
Harold Holt [Australian Prime Minister from January 1966 to December 1967] and his wife Zara were in London for the duration of all the festivities arranged in conjunction with the coronation. On Wednesday, 27 May 1953, at one of the official pre coronation functions, Holt, the President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association made a speech addressed to the Queen. At the function itself, Holt sat to the right of the Queen, with the Duke of Edinburgh to her left. Despite his anxieties about his speech (‘I had to say [everything]… all in five minutes. An agony of the spirit for a politician accustomed to our own windy speech making.’) Holt called it ‘an unforgettable experience for me’.
These are celebration medals that were presented to Australians, awarded for attending, as an invited guest a Royal Occasion.
More on the medals on the digger history and on the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.