As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, it got me thinking that this grand and magnificent occasion must have been tinged with a great deal of sadness and there were two reasons for this.
1. Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation would not have been happening at all on 2nd June 1953 had her father King George VI not have tragically died some sixteen months previously. Although we know that in order for Elizabeth to become Queen her predecessor must be deceased, surely this woman of just 25 years of age would have given anything to have both of her parents there to see her be crowned. Nobody is saying that the coronation day was not a happy and momentous occasion, nonetheless Queen Elizabeth’s father had not been buried eighteen months yet but somehow this young woman was expected to perform her duty and put on a brave face, something which she did remarkably, but nobody knows what was going on inside the young Queen’s mind.
Official coronation day photograph in the Abbey.
2. Queen Mary, consort of King George V for nearly 26 years, sadly died on the 24th March 1953 just some ten weeks before her granddaughter was to be crowned. Queen Mary was a much loved Queen Consort who had lived through the reigns of six British Monarchs and who doted on her Grandchildren Elizabeth and Margaret. Some say that Queen Mary’s influence on Elizabeth had a great impact on the way Elizabeth steered her own reign. It must have come as a great shock when she died on 24th March 1953, not only had she lost a grandmother but another link to her father was no longer there. To Queen Mary’s credit she stated that the coronation was to go ahead no matter what, a remarkable woman, it comes as no surprise to learn the Queen was devastated about the loss.
What I am trying to get at here is that the young Queen had suffered a great deal of personal loss in the months and weeks leading up to her coronation, what amazes me is that the Queen showed no signs of sadness or weakness on her coronation day because she knew that was what was expected of her. Duty before self is what the Queen’s reign has been so constantly steered on, it comes as no surprise that even sixty years ago when a newly appointed, young and vulnerable Queen had recently began her reign, she was living by that motto then, duty before self. Such was the grandeur of the day that people forget that Queen Elizabeth II is a human being as well and just like all of her people had suffered at some point in their lives, she was suffering personal loss and was grieving at a time when sadness and grief just were not the emotions people expected of her.