May 12, 1937, 84 years ago today, was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. This coronation plate is in my collection of memorabilia of the British Royal Family.
Interestingly, this coronation date was originally selected for the coronation of King Edward VIII, who abruptly abdicated in December, 1936. His younger brother Albert, Duke of York, was something of a reluctant monarch. Married with two young daughters, he struggled with public speaking because of severe stuttering.
Realizing that this change would mean his then 11-year-old older daughter Elizabeth would succeed him to the throne, he vowed to see that she was well-prepared. On Coronation Day, he asked her to write a review of the coronation. She presented the handwritten document entitled, “To Mommy and Papa, In Memory of Their Coronation. From Lilibet, by Herself.” She and her younger sister Margaret Rose sat through the long ceremony at Westminster Abbey. She wrote, “Then came Papa looking very beautiful in a crimson robe and the Cap of State.” In a later section, she commented, “At the end the service got rather boring as it was all prayers. Grannie (Queen Mary, her father’s mother) and I were looking to see how many more pages to the end, and we turned one more and then I pointed to the word at the bottom of the page and it said ‘Finis.’ We both smiled at each other and turned back to the service.”
June 2, 1953, was the coronation day for Queen Elizabeth II. At the time, I was about the age she was when her father became king. I read every newspaper and magazine article I could find about the young queen and made a scrapbook. We didn’t have television at the time, but I went with friends to watch the first films of the ceremony. I’m sure that today the 95-year-old Queen is remembering her Papa’s Coronation Day. It seems that he kept his vow to prepare her well for her royal duties!