Tuesday, 29 November 2016



You knew it was a great event when newspapers and magazines were in a frenzy.

The former Princess Elizabeth was to be crowned as Queen of England on June 2, 1953, following the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952. Though Princess Elizabeth immediately became Queen at the time of his passing, the official coronation would take some time to organise.

The Commonwealth countries were not to let this great occasion pass without their own ceremonies.  

At that time, I was a small girl, totally enraptured by princesses, queens and dare I say, princes.

We lived in the small village of Urunga, in NSW, in the Bellingen Shire. The population of the whole shire was just 12,517 in 2011. #  

Urunga citizens, though small in numbers, were large in enthusiasm. Everyone seemed to have ideas, some great and fanciful, some very small, but all agreed that we would do 'our Queen' proud.. There would be a parade, sporting events and a picnic, the parade starting and ending at what was then called the recreation ground, which just happened to be across the road from where we lived. Dad had a flat top truck, so that was immediately seconded to be one of the floats. The CWA and Red Cross ladies, joined with the various auxiliaries to provide the food for the day. I doubt there was a family in town who wasn't involved. After all this was to be the biggest celebration since the end of the war.

The newspapers and magazines kept us informed of all the preparations, including the making of the robe.

nla.news-article194090070.3 Coronation Robe

Making Royal Coronation Robe

Every day sees the completion of another half yard of the royal purple velvet which will be made by Britain’s Royal School of Needlework, into the Coronation Robe of Queen Elizabeth II.The 20 yards necessary will not be finished until February. And, just in case of accidents, a duplicate length is being woven.
Three English counties are proud to be associated with this wonderful velvet, which is so light and soft and incredibly close in texture. The raw silk was produced at Lullingstone Silk Farm, where the silk was also spun for the Coronation robes of the late King George VI and his consort, and for the brocade of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown. It was ‘thrown’  (or twisted into a more substantial thread) by the silk mill in the little village of Glemsford in Suffolk: and the velvet is being woven by Messers. Warner of Braintree, in Essex, who have made the velvet for the Coronation robes of three monarchs as well as brocade for Queen Mary’s wedding gown and Queen Victoria’s velvet funeral pall.
Only 21 inches wide, of the richest quality, the velvet for the Coronation robe is woven of threads so fine that they seem almost invisible against the two ancient looms - each more than 100 years old - which are being used. Two most expert weavers have been entrusted with the work - Miss Lily Lee, who is making the original length, and Mrs. Hilda Carver, who is weaving the duplicate length at the same time. Miss Lee, who also wove the Coronation robe of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was invited to King George VI’s coronation in 1937: most likely she will be among the congregation in 1953.

Of course, there were numerous souvenirs created, everything from teaspoons, cups, pens, scarves, flags, stamps and so much more..

When the big day arrived, Dad's truck was decorated with lots of crepe paper, balloons and of course, the obligatory pretty girls, one of whom was to be crowned later as the Queen of the Parade, though I can't find any record of her name.

There was a surprise with the football game though, as you can see here...  I wonder if she continued to play.

England may have had their Queen Elizabeth, but Urunga had five beautiful Queens, or maybe Queen Mothers... a beautiful tribute.

http///nla.gov.au/nla.news-article187938408 Coronation Day

My recollections are mainly of Dad polishing the truck so it shone as never before, helping to put crepe paper streamers on it and putting a few flowers from both my mother's and my grandmother's gardens into a basket for the soon to be Queen of the Parade. However, what I remember most is two of the young men who drove for Dad, being very daring and dressing in crepe paper skirts and bras, with flowers in their hair, riding a tandem bicycle decorated with crepe paper and wooden sticks attached to the wheels to make a noise as they rode along. I'm sure they would have gotten as much applause as any of the others in the parade, maybe even more. 

We children were given a free toffee apple and a drink.. other than everyone being very happy and eating a butterfly cake with fresh cream, the rest of the day is a bit of a blur.

Last, but not least, what would a celebration be without the Australian Women's Weekly cover to announce it? June 10, 1953.

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