LifestyleElizabeth II's dramatic coronation prep: Near-accident revealed

Elizabeth II's dramatic coronation prep: Near-accident revealed

Queen Elizabeth II with her husband right after the coronation
Queen Elizabeth II with her husband right after the coronation
Images source: © Getty Images | The Print Collector

7:41 AM EDT, June 2, 2024

Exactly 71 years ago, on June 2, 1953, the coronation of Elizabeth II took place. Thanks to television, the event was followed by millions of people, and the queen herself later revealed what the behind-the-scenes preparations for the ceremony looked like. It turned out that they were not the easiest.

Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022, after more than 70 years on the British throne. When the crown was placed on her head on June 2, 1953, probably no one realized that she would become the longest-reigning monarch in Great Britain's history.

During this time, Elizabeth saw 14 US presidents, seven popes, and as many as 15 prime ministers of Great Britain. As she announced at the beginning of her reign that her whole life would be devoted to serving the nation, so it was, and she performed her duties even two days before her death, when on September 6, 2022, she entrusted Liz Truss with the mission of forming a new government.

Preparations for the coronation

Although she officially became queen on February 6, 1952, the day of her father George VI's death, the ceremonial coronation at Westminster Abbey took place 16 months later. During this time, Elizabeth II meticulously prepared for it, which she later discussed in an interview with a BBC journalist. On this occasion, she also revealed a few interesting tidbits.

One of them was that the queen practiced wearing the heavy crown for several months. As she admitted, having it on her head meant she couldn't look down to read her speech; she had to lift the page up.

"You can't look down to read the speech; you have to take the speech up because if you did, your neck would break. There are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise, they're quite important things," she recalled years later.

Additionally, on the coronation day, Elizabeth II had to walk in a velvet robe with a 16-foot train. Thus, the young queen strolled around the palace in the crown with sheets pinned to her shoulders so that everything looked perfect.

A step from an accident

The preparations for the ceremony, particularly the royal training, are associated with an anecdote that has been repeated for years. Elizabeth, practicing walking in her elaborate robes and crown, was supposed to stroll around the palace at night. Suddenly, a guard spotted a strange figure and aimed a gun at it.

When it turned out to be the queen, the terrified guard admitted that he nearly shot her. Known for her composure, Elizabeth simply replied: "Next time, I'll ring through beforehand so you don't have to shoot me."

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