A detailed account of the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth from their daughter, Princess Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth II). 1937.
Title page:The Coronation, 12th May, 1937. To Mummy and Papa, in memory of their Coronation, from Lilibet by Herself.
An account of the Coronation.
At 5 o'clock in the morning I was woken up by the band of the Royal Marines striking up just outside my window. I leapt out of bed and so did Bobo. We put on dressing gowns and shoes and Bobo made me put on an eiderdown as it was so cold and we crouched in the window looking into a cold, misty morning.
There were already some people in the stands and all the time people were coming to them in a stream with occasional pauses in between.
Every now and then we were hopping in and out of bed looking at the bands and the soldiers. At six o'clock Bobo got up and instead of getting up at my usual time I jumped out of bed at half-past seven. When I was going to the bathroom I passed the lift, as usual, and who should walk out but Miss Daly! I was very pleased to see her. When I dressed I went into the nursery and Margaret Elphinstone, who came to breakfast, was waiting there. We did not eat very much as we were too excited. After we had finished we looked out of the window until it was time to get dressed. We saw the Canadian Mounted Police in their red coats and once when a policeman went by on his bicycle, everyone cheered!
When we were dressed we showed ourselves to the visitors and the housemaids. Now I shall try and give you a description of our dresses.
They were white silk with old cream lace and had little gold bows all the way down the middle. They had puffed sleeves with one little bow in the centre. Then there were the robes of purple velvet with gold on the edge.
We went along to Mummy’s bedroom and we found her putting on her dress. Papa was dressed in a white shirt, breeches and stockings, and over this he wore a crimson satin coat. Then a page came and said it was time to go down, so we kissed Mummy, and wished her good luck and went down. There was said “Good Morning” to Aunt Alice, Aunt Marina and Aunt Mary with whom we were to drive to the Abbey. We were then told to get into the carriage. When we got in we still had to wait a few minutes and then our carriage moved from the door. At first it was very jolty but we soon got used to it. We went round the Memorial, down the Mall, through Admiralty Arch, along Whitehall, past the Cenotaph and the Horse Guards’ Parade, and then Westminster Abbey. When we got out we were welcomed by the Duke of Norfolk, the Event Marshall.
We waited in the little dressing room until it was time to go up the aisle. Then we arranged ourselves to form the procession. First of all came the Heralds, then two Gentleman Ushers, then all in a line, Margaret, Aunt Mary and myself. When we got to the Theatre we sat down and waited for Queen Mary’s procession. Grannie looked too beautiful in a gold dress patterned with golden flowers. Then we went up the steps and into the box. There we sat down and waited about half-an-hour until Mummy’s procession began. Then came Papa looking very beautiful in a crimson robe and the Cap of State.
Then the service began.
I thought it all very, very wonderful and I expect the Abbey did, too. The arches and beams at the top were covered with a sort of haze and wonder as Papa was crowned, at least I thought so.
When Mummy was crowned and all the peeresses put on their coronets it looked wonderful to see arms and coronets hovering in the air and then the arms disappear as if by magic. Also the music was lovely and the band, the orchestra and the new organ all played beautifully.
What struck me as being rather odd was that Grannie did not remember much of her own Coronation. I should have thought that it would have stayed in her mind for ever.
At the end the service got rather boring as it was all prayers. Grannie 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.
After Papa had passed we were all shivering because there was a most awful draught coming from somewhere, so we were glad to get out of the box. Then we went down the aisle, first a gentleman I did not know, then Margaret and myself and then Grannie. When we got back to our dressing room we had some sandwiches, stuffed rolls, orangeade and lemonade. Then we left for our long drive.
On leaving the Abbey, we went along the Embankment, Northumberland Avenue, through Trafalgar, St. James St., Piccadilly, Regent St., Oxford St. with Selfridge’s lovely figures, through Marble Arch, through Hyde Park, Hyde Park Corner, Constitution Hill, round the Memorial and into the courtyard.
Then we went up to the corridor to see the Coach coming in. Then Mummy and Papa came up and said “Good morning” and were congratulated. Then we all went on the Balcony where millions of people were waiting below. After that we all went to be photographed in front of those awful lights.
When we sat down to tea it was nearly six o'clock! When I got in to bed my legs ached terribly. As my head touched the pillow I was asleep and I did not wake up till nearly eight o'clock the next morning.