2nd June 1953 – Coronation Day In London

The 2nd of June 1953 was Coronation Day in London and a public holiday. As usual for such an event, people started lining the route between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey well before the procession to ensure a good position to see the new Queen.

The weather during the previous May had been excellent with lots of warm, sunny weather broken only by the occasional thunderstorm. This weather broke by the end of May, for the last week of May and the rest of June the country was under many low pressure areas moving from the Atlantic bringing cold temperatures for June and rain.

My father took a number of photos of people as they lined the route, along The Mall and round into Trafalgar Square.

These show people wrapped up for the weather and rather more formally dressed than you would find at such an event today.

This photo was taken in The Mall. They look well prepared for the wait. The man is obviously not interested in people watching, he looks engrossed in his book. The group in the background also seem very well prepared judging by the number of boxes they have.

Coronation 1

Sleeping in The Mall:

Coronation 2

Again in The Mall and the crowds are growing. In the top left is the faint outline of one of the arched decorations that spanned The Mall:

Coronation 3

A wider view of a very busy Mall.

Coronation 7

The morning of the 2nd of June was more like an autumn day with rain showers and temperatures reaching only 12 degrees centigrade. Very low for early June.

This is Trafalgar Square. On the left is one of the commentary boxes set-up along the route. This was the first Coronation to be televised.

Coronation 4

Photo of the small group of people on the lion. Not sure how long the man on the far left was going to balance in that precarious position:

Coronation 5

Another view of the same scene:

Coronation 6

These two look cheerful despite the long wait and the weather:

Coronation 8

The newspaper between them was the Daily Mirror from the 29th May. The headline “The Shame Of Piccadilly” and “The rich street forgets” refers to the complete lack of decoration in Piccadilly for the Coronation. There are two photos on the page. The top photo shows Piccadilly without any decoration, the bottom photo shows, what is assumed to be an ordinary working class street decorated with flags and bunting and a Long Live The Queen banner stretched across the road. (I also have a series of photos taken in Hoxton showing the street decorations – a subject for a future post)

Coronation 10

Another group reading and watching the world go by:

Coronation 9

Some of the elaborate decorations that lined the Coronation route:

Coronation 11Coronation 12Coronation 13The expectation at the time was of a new Elizabethan era with comparisons back to Queen Elizabeth 1st as shown by the following tableau along the route of the procession. The text on the left is abbreviated from a speech given by Queen Elizabeth 1st to the Houses of Parliament on April 10th 1593 (1558 was the year that Elizabeth 1st became Queen) and that on the right from Queen Elizabeth 2nd from her first Christmas broadcast in 1952. Coronation 14

For those lining the route of the procession, I suspect that despite the weather, it was an event that was well worth the wait and long remembered.


10 thoughts on “2nd June 1953 – Coronation Day In London

  1. Gillian Lawrence

    Fabulous. Thank you. The rain would be nothing to the crowd: They’d just come out of a war. I remember waving a small Union Jack over a balcony in Stroud Green, North London, miles away from the action.
    What photos eh? Un-posed.
    Weird how in today’s released photos Prince George looks like a child from 1953 with his hair-parting on the right and short trews and grey socks.

  2. Jo W

    Wonderful photographs! Thank you. The coronation being televised spurred my dad to rent a television and I can’t remember just how many relatives,friends and neighbours were squeezed into the living room of our flat. I got a seat at the front,on the floor, being nearly five. All the blocks of flats were decorated somehow,with even the washing lines bedecked. This was in Bermondsey! Shame on Piccadilly! By the way,I wonder what happened to all those official street decorations when they were dismantled? Any ideas?

    1. admin Post author

      Sorry, no idea what happened to them. A shame if they were broken up as they were very ornate and much work must have gone into their design and completion. I have photos of the streets in Hoxton really well decorated so I can imagine what is was like in Bermondsey and I suspect across much of London.

  3. Donna Reeves

    Great photo’s of the people, I wasn’t born until 1954 so have yet to experience a coronation. It always seems to me that it is the experiences of the ‘ordinary’ people that bring these occasions to life again.

    1. admin Post author

      Agree, it is the “ordinary” people that make these so interesting. I often wonder what happened to all the people in these photos.

  4. Schroder

    Remembering as a 6 year-old youngster sitting afront a crowd of 18 before the small television in our front room. Looking for auntie Vi and grandmother Florence in the crowd, hearing the oohs and aahs of adults around me, three in military uniforms, army and air. Uncle Lewis, colonel, sternly admiring the precision of BBC broadcasting.

  5. Bill Green

    I was in the Mall as a 10 year old with my younger brother and family. We arrived late but were pushed to the front and sheltered under a policeman’s cape. Wonderful procession of carriages . Good to be able to say “We were there!!” . Now in West Australia with not so much rain!

  6. Rhoda campbell

    This was a very special day in a little village in Killyleagh in Northern Ireland with a fairy tale castle overlooking . Although grey the day brightened up and we had sunny spells.. but I was only concerned about my special coronation dress white with the the horses and Royal carriages I was 6 and held onto my brothers hand as we all stood at the playing fields for our coronation mugs and spoons the ladies all handed out sandwiches and drinks ..Later a bonfire was set alite in front of the castle lots of people and laughing . It was a day I will always remember especially the dress ..
    How difference are the times for King Charles


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