It has been 70 years since the last British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, was officially crowned.
With Elizabeth’s son, King Charles III, set to be crowned on May 6, people are recalling his mother’s coronation, which was the last time the British public witnessed the ritual.
“The whole of London was sort of a cauldron of people rushing to the area to look at what was happening,” said James Wilkinson, then an 11-year-old member of the Westminster Abbey choir, which sang during the ceremony.
Queen Elizabeth II was not originally an heir-apparent to the throne. However, in 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne and Queen Elizabeth’s father took over.
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She made her first public speech at the age of 14 and would become queen at the age of 25 following her father’s sudden death. King George VI died at the age of 56 from coronary thrombosis, which is a blocking of blood flow from the heart.
Queen Elizabeth was crowned on June 2, 1953 – over a year after she ascended to the throne. More than 8,000 guests attended the ceremony. The 1953 coronation was the first to be televised, at the request of the 27-year-old queen. 27 million people watched the Queen’s coronation, according to Buckingham Palace.
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At the time, London was still recovering from World War II.
Queen Elizabeth’s coronation was held at Westminster Abbey – where coronations have taken place since 1066. Before then, coronations occurred wherever possible.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were taken to the coronation at Westminster Abbey from Buckingham Palace in a carriage driven by gray gelding horses –Cunningham, Tovey, Noah, Tedder, Eisenhower, Snow White, Tipperary and McCreery. King Charles’ carriage will be pulled by eight “Windsor Greys” as well – Icon, Shadow, Milford Haven, Newark, Echo, Knightsbridge, Meg and Tyrone.
Following the queen’s coronation, she toured the commonwealth, visiting places such as Bermuda, Fiji, Tonga, Australia and Gibraltar.
Before she was crowned, Queen Elizabeth had welcomed two children, Charles and Anne. Following her coronation, Elizabeth and Prince Philip welcomed two more additions to the royal family, Andrew and Edward.
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Queen Elizabeth was the first British royal to reach the Platinum Jubilee. She celebrated 70 years as sovereign in 2022, just months before her death at age 96.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.