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Royal fever is sweeping London as Buckingham Palace opens for summer and everyone goes nuts for the royal sprog

Celebrating the anniversary of one of the most momentous days in British history, Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne, a new exhibition at Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s Coronation 1953, goes to great lengths to capture the essence of that day 60 years ago. 

“We wanted to make the exhibition about the royal family in the setting of Buckingham Palace, which was the focal point for the coronation,” explains curator Caroline de Guitaut. 

The major exhibition of this year’s Summer Opening at Buckingham Palace, where you get to snoop around the royal abode, brings together dresses, uniforms and robes, works of art and more used in the coronation. And with the country still gaga for the brand-new Prince George of Cambridge, there couldn’t be a better time to celebrate all things Windsor. 

When TNT visited we were struck, aptly, by the majesty of the palace. Walking through the Grand Hall and up the Grand Staircase, it’s a gold-plated tour through the British monarchy, with paintings of royals past lining the walls. 

An introductory room with footage from the day itself, alongside replicas of Fifties TV sets, introduces you to the day the second-longest reigning British monarch took the throne. 

Elizabeth II’s coronation was unlike any other to have preceded it in many ways, not least due to the fact it was the first to be broadcast live on TV.

“[The Queen] wanted the Coronation to be a celebration of tradition but also to encompass modernity,” de Guitaut explains.

The centrepiece is the Coronation dress. Designed by couturier Norman Hartnell, it is “full skirted, has a nipped-in waist, encrusted embroidery, and encompasses the national emblem of the UK, as well as the Commonwealth countries of which she was now head of state,” de Guitaut says.

Hartnell submitted many designs, and it was only after alterations to the eighth requested by Queen Elizabeth, that the 5.3m-long dress was finalised. 

A walk through a recreation of the Queen’s Coronation State Banquet illustrates how the occasion was marked behind closed doors, and the adjoining Green Drawing Room is especially revelatory about the day. 

“This is where [photographer] Cecil Beaton took the official portraits [of the royal family],” de Guitaut says. “They would go on to be the most enduring images of her reign.” 

One of the most revealing aspects of this room though is not the photos, or the ornate presentation of the silk-lined walls, but private footage shot on the day for the royals – a family video on a most grand scale – which shows a four-year-old Prince Charles messing around only to be brought into line by an orderly touch on the shoulder from not a minder, but the Queen herself.  

Stocking up on Prince George mugs and keen for more of royal London? Check out our top picks over the page, from crown jewels to Tudor cookery and a royal afternoon tea.  

 

More Royal London>

 

The Queen’s Coronation 1953 runs
Jul 27-Sep 29. £19.  
Buckingham Palace, SW1A 1AA  
Tube | Victoria  
royalcollection.org.uk


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A royal summer: The arrival of Prince George, the opening of Buckingham Palace and more London events to get you swept up in royal fever
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