32 facts about Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation that you may never heard of before

Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation was a monumental moment in history and the first event many watched on TV

32 facts about Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation
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Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation took place on 2nd June 1953, 16 months after she officially became the Queen after her father, King George VI passed away. It was a momentous day in history and a lavish affair by all accounts, capturing the excitement of the nation.

Queen Elizabeth II was the longest-serving British monarch in history, loved by the nation for her no-nonsense attitude, incredible work ethic and love of her family. We're looking back at where it all began at the grand service at Westminster Abbey, when the Queen was just 27 years old. 

We consulted The Royal Family's website archives to find out 32 facts that you might not know about Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation. How long did it last? How was it in the audience? And did everyone eat Coronation Chicken on the big day? These answers might surprise you.

32 facts about Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation

1. The Queen's bouquet had a special significance

Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation flowers

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Queen Elizabeth's coronation bouquet was seriously impressive, with stunning white flowers representing different parts of the UK. The bouquet consisted of orchids and lilies-of-the-valley from England, stephanotis from Scotland, orchids from Wales, and carnations from Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

2. The Duke of Edinburgh wore full navel dress

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the Queen's Coronation

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It was by all means a smart occasion for all involved and the Duke of Edinburgh wore his official Naval uniform for the journey to and from Westminster Abbey to support his wife during her Coronation. While in the Abbey, Philip wore a coronet and an opulent robe over his uniform. 

3. The Queen recycled her Coronation dress multiple times

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the Queen's Coronation

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The royals have been known to recycle their outfits - and the late Queen was no exception. Since the Coronation, the Queen reportedly wore her coronation dress six times including during the Opening of Parliament in New Zealand and Australia in 1954, as pictured above. 

4. The Coronation running time was actually reasonably short

Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Day

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The Queen's coronation service was certainly a grand affair, but the actual ceremony only lasted three hours, beginning at 11.15 am. The coronation had six parts: the recognition, the oath, the anointing, the investiture (which includes the crowning), the enthronement and the homage.

5. The Queen had a big send off from Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Day

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Naturally, the Queen's send-off to Westminster Abbey was a large-scale affair, with Buckingham Palace housemaids, chefs and gardeners who gathered inside the Grand Hall at Buckingham Palace to see Queen Elizabeth leave. 

6. There was a new batch of Anointing Oil, breaking royal tradition

Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation

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Using a special Anointing Oil is part of the official coronation process and there's a special recipe for this fragrant oil, containing orange, cinnamon, musk, ambergris and roses. In usual practice, the oil would be made in a large batch to be used at several coronation services, but in May 1941, a bomb hit the Deanery destroying the phial, meaning a new batch was made specifically for Elizabeth. 

7. Princess Anne didn't attend the ceremony

Queen Elizabeth with Princess Anne as a baby

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Princess Anne didn't actually attend the ceremony as she was considered too young (she was two years old at the time). However, the young Princess did later join the royal family on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

8. Some special Coronation invitations were given out

Queen Elizabeth's Coronation invitations

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As a sweet touch, Prince Charles received a special hand-painted children's invitation to his mother's coronation. We don't have a copy of this invitation, but we managed to unearth an original Coronation Day invitation from 1953. 

9. The Coronation Day guest list was huge

Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Day

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A huge 8,251 guests attended the Queen's Coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey, with the procession made up of 250 people including Church leaders, Commonwealth Prime Ministers, members of the Royal Household, civil and military leaders and the Yeoman of the Guard. 

10. The event had a captive audience

French viewers tune in to watch the Queen's Coronation Day in 1953

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Reportedly, a whopping 27 million people in the UK watched the ceremony on television and 11 million listened on the radio, with even more viewers across the globe. This photograph depicts a crowd in France gathering together to watch the coronation ceremony on a public screen.

11. There was a stand-out guest on the Big Day

Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation: Queen Salote Tupou III of Tonga

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In true British fashion, the Queen's Coronation Day was a rainy one. And one guest in particular won the hearts of onlookers with her response. Queen Salote Tupou III of Tonga kept the roof of her carriage down, beaming at the crowds, despite the miserable weather. 

12. Coronation Chicken was invented for guests from overseas

Royal lunch at the Coronation Day in 1953

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Coronation Chicken is a dish that's often associated with royal occasions, but it was actually invented for guests from overseas, who were entertained after the Coronation ceremony. The recipe was actually suggested by florist Constance Spry, who came up with a recipe of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, green peas and mixed herbs.

13. Cecil Beaton took the most iconic photograph of the day

Queen Elizabeth II's portrait on her Coronation Day

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Of course, there were hundreds - if not thousands - of beautiful pictures taken on Coronation Day, but perhaps the most iconic was one in particular taken by esteemed royal photographer Cecil Beaton. For the striking image, he had Queen Elizabeth pose in front of a backdrop depicting Henry VII's Chapel in Westminster Abbey.

14. The official artist for the day was Feliks Topolski

Polish painter Feliks Topolski RA working on a large mural depicting scenes from the Queen's Coronation, which has been commissioned by Prince Philip,

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Polish artist Feliks Topolski was the official artist for the Queen's Coronation and he worked tirelessly on a large mural showing scenes from the Queen's Coronation in 14 sections. The artist was commissioned by Prince Philip in a sweet gesture to the late Queen. 

15. The Coronation date was on hold for a while

Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in the Coronation Coach en route to Westminster Abbey

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Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne on the 6th of February 1952 when her father King George VI passed away, but the actual Coronation Day didn't take place until 1953 - 16 months later. The country was still under a lot of economic pressure following the war and this coupled with the mourning period for the King means that the ceremony was significantly delayed. 

16. The Queen's dress was embroidered in a significant way

The Queen's official Coronation Day portrait

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Her Majesty's stunning coronation dress was crafted from white stain and embroidered in gold and silver thread with some significant images for those if you were to look closely enough. The dress, designed by British fashion designer Norman Hartnell, was adorned with emblems of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

17. The Queen's crown featured over 1,000 diamonds

Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Imperial state Crown and carrying the Orb and sceptre, leaving the state coach and entering Buckingham Palace

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The Queen's incredible coronation crown, known as the George IV State Diadem, was made with 333 diamonds, 169 pearls and roses, thistles and shamrocks and crafted in 1820. 

18. The Queen's Purple Robe of Estate took over 3,000 hours to complete

The Queen stands on Buckingham Palace balcony, Coronation day 1953

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The Queen wore the Purple Robe of Estate on her two-hour journey back to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey, where she greeted the crowds watching her carriage. Crafted from silk, it reportedly took twelve seamstresses (from the Royal School of Needlework) to craft the piece - and a huge 3,500 hours to complete!

19. There is a special Coronation ring

The coronation of Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey, London. family group at Buckingham Palace

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As well as her incredible crown, the late Queen wore a special ring that had been passed down the generations, known as 'The Wedding Ring of England'. The ring was originally made in 1831 for King William IV's Coronation and has been worn at every coronation since.

20. It was the first Coronation to be televised

Some of the equipment available to the BBC mobile units which will provide coverage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

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The Queen's Coronation was a huge event for the people of Great Britain, with an estimated 27 million people tuning in to watch the ceremony, and 11 million listening to it on the radio. For many, it was the first event they'd ever watched on television. 

21. Jackie Kennedy covered the event as a journalist

Jacqueline Kennedy working as a journalist in 1953

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One of the thousands of journalists covering the coronation ceremony was a journalist called Jacqueline Bouvier, writing up the big day for the Washington Times-Herald. This young journalist went on to become Jackie Kennedy, the First Lady of the United States.

22. The Queen opted for a simple meal on the day

The Queen at her Coronation Day

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The Queen is known to enjoy simple food - and her Coronation day in 1953 was no different. Her Majesty was said to enjoy a traditional menu of soup, steak and salad, followed by ice cream.

23. Children across the country received special gifts

Two young friends at a party in Morpeth Street in London's East End, to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

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It was an exciting day for children across the UK who joined street parties and watched the coronation with their families. It was reported by the Royal Household that over one million children received a matchbox model of the Queen's golden coach, while others were given a special coronation mug or a tin of Smarties.

24. Westmister Abbey was closed for months ahead of the event

Westmister Abbey on Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Day

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Westminster Abbey was actually closed for five months ahead of the event to prepare for the Queen's Coronation. This involved a fair bit of maintenance work, including felting and boarding the floor, as well as special monuments to try and avoid damage during the event.

25. There were 13 clocks in Westminster Abbey

The inside of Westmister Abbey on Queen Elizabeth's Coronation

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It was very important on Coronation Day that things ran like clockwork according to the day's schedule. With this in mind, thirteen clocks in the Abbey were all electronically linked so they told exactly the same time.

26. The Coronation day actually began at 4am

Queen Elizabeth during her Coronation

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It was a very early morning for those working behind the scenes on Coronation Day! The day started for the Stewards at 4 am, who were given a special breakfast before a briefing session on the day's events. Guests could arrive from 6 am - many hours before the service began at 11.15 am.

27. The ride to Westminster Abbey was very uncomfortable

Queen Elizabeth II on the way to her coronation

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The Queen described her ride to Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach as "horrible" as it was so uncomfortable, explaining, "It’s only sprung on leather" (via ITV). The grand coach was drawn by eight horses called Cunningham, Tovey, Noah, Tedder, Eisenhower, Snow White, Tipperary and McCreery.

28. The Queen had six maids of honour

Queen Elizabeth II with her Mistress of the Robes and the six Maids of Honour after her coronation.

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Queen Elizabeth II has a Mistress of the Robes and the six Maids of Honour to assist her during her coronation. They carried her long train as she walked down the aisle - much like a wedding. They also wore dresses designed by Norman Hartnell, who crafted the Queen's elaborate gown. 

29. For many, the day involved a big, boozy picnic

Two women enjoying a picnic for the Queen's coronation

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It was - and still is - customary for families and friends across the country to pull a picnic together to mark big royal events. But it was also reported that of the 2,000 guests invited to watch the coronation, many had brought alcohol with them along with their snacks, with miniature bottles of gin and whisky found among the litter after the service.

30. Prince Philip had a brilliant time

Prince Philip Queen's coronation

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Prince Philip had a brilliant time at the late Queen's Coronation, explaining that "much of that day certainly remains rather a blur in my memory, although I have the most vivid memories of individual incidents," (via Yahoo). He also said the service was "one of the greatest ceremonies the Abbey has ever witnessed". 

31. The return route took hours to complete

The State Coach leaves Westmister Abbey

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The return route was much longer than the outward journey to Westminster Abbey, specially designed so that the procession could be seen by as many people in London as possible. It took two hours to complete and was 7.2 km in length. 

32. There was a special broadcast to close the event

Queen Elizabeth on her Coronation Day in 1953

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The Queen shared a special message at 9 pm on the evening of the coronation, thanking all those involved. She told listeners, "It is hard for me to find words in which to tell you of the strength which this knowledge has given me."

Before adding, "As this day draws to its close, I know that my abiding memory of it will be, not only the solemnity and beauty of the ceremony but the inspiration of your loyalty and affection. I thank you all from a full heart."

Lauren Hughes

Lauren is the former Deputy Digital Editor at woman&home and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren worked on the woman&home brand for four years before going freelance. Before woman&home Lauren worked across a variety of women's lifestyle titles, including GoodTo, Woman's Own, and Woman magazine.