Every summer the Queen goes to Scotland for her holidays which means we can visit her London home, Buckingham Palace. Each year they host a special exhibition as part of the tour of the State Rooms and unsurprisingly this year it celebrates the coronation in 1953. I’ve been asked, by understandably confused visitors, wasn’t that last year? The answer is she became Queen in 1952 after the death of her father but the coronation wasn’t until the following year as I guess it takes rather a lot of organising!
I was lucky enough to attend a preview and was able to take some photos of the exhibition, which is not normally allowed, however the State Rooms were still off limits. I’m really pleased to be able to give you a peak into the 2013 special exhibition on the Queen’s Coronation.
The centre piece is the beautiful white satin coronation dress, decorated with the symbols of the home nations:-roses for England, thistles for Scotland, leeks for Wales, and shamrocks for Ireland, as well as symbols of Commonwealth countries. It was designed by Norman Hartnell and is displayed with the dramatic purple silk velvet robe which is 6.5 metres long.
This next view of the exhibition gives you a chance to see the impressive ballroom where the exhibition is being held. You can view an unprecedented collection of dresses, uniforms and robes worn at the Coronation, not seen together since, including the endearing costumes worn by the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne who were just 4 and 2 years old on the day.
Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother wore fabulous dresses as did the Maids of Honour, all in the same theme:
You can see some dazzling jewels including the Diamond Diadem, dating from 1821 which the Queen wore on the way to Westminster Abbey and the Coronation necklace which was made for Queen Victoria in 1858. The Diadem might look familiar as the Queen wears it on our postage stamps!
Excellent visual displays add to the magic – one shows the various stages of the ceremony which lasted a full 3 hours! Another uses a wall as the screen for photographs of the day.
The coronation was a great moment in television history and the BBC mounted their first big outside broadcast and an original film camera marks this event, when 27 million people gathered around a limited number of TV sets and 11 million caught it on their radio sets.
Every big event needs a good meal afterwards and the Coronation Banquets catered for 400 guests eating off the finest Sevres porcelain and silver gilt tableware. The main course was lamb with strawberries for pudding, all beautifully described in French on the menus! These recreated tables also give you a peak at the sumptuous decorations in one of the Palace rooms:
There is a lot more to see and enjoy beyond my few highlights of the special exhibition and you get to see the rest of the Palace as well. Her Majesty will let you in from now through to 29th September so I’d recommend popping in if you are visiting London!
Bye for now,