Canadian royalists remember Queen Elizabeth’s coronation as they await King Charles

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MONTREAL — Jean Hess recalls being 12 years old camping out on the sidewalk outside Buckingham Palace with her mother, cousin and aunt the day before Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.

Hess, now 81, says her efforts have been rewarded with memories that will last a lifetime: the Queen who looked “small and beautiful” in her golden carriage, the Queen of Tonga shouting hello to Hess from a motorcade car, and a glimpse of young Prince Charles and Princess Anne in the palace windows. But above all, she remembers the joy of the crowd.

“It was happy and people were singing,” said Hess, who now lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

“I remembered everyone singing on the side of the road and the police being really friendly.”

The announcement last week that King Charles’ coronation will take place in May brings back memories for Canadian royal fans, many of whom still remember the hope and excitement surrounding Queen Elizabeth’s coronation nearly 100 years ago. 70 years.

During the ceremony, the king will take the oath before being anointed, blessed and consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will then place a crown on his head.

Jill Peapell, originally from London but now living in Halifax, said the rise of a beautiful young queen was a beacon of hope for a country which had just suffered from World War II and years of food rationing in ‘after war.

“We had just come out of that era, and obviously we had been through the Blitz and all the other stuff in and around London, so (the coronation) was a huge relief,” she said during the interview. ‘a telephone interview.

“The coronation had a huge impact, I think, on all of us because it was our hope for the future.”

Peapell, like Hess, camped outside the parade route the night before the coronation alongside his family. She remembers it as a “superbly happy occasion” despite the “excruciating” weather.

“Everyone was sharing their sandwiches and there was a camaraderie, you know, everyone was really helping each other out,” said Peapell, who was 16 at the time.

Buckingham Palace announced last week that King Charles would be crowned on May 6 at Westminster Abbey alongside Camilla, the Queen consort.

The ceremony “will reflect the role of the monarch today and look to the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry,” the palace said.

The Queen’s coronation was considered a modern affair, mainly because it was the first time a global event of this magnitude had been televised. Several fans of the Canadian royal family told The Canadian Press that the event was one of the first times they watched television, after their parents bought or rented televisions especially for the occasion.

“I remember my dad hanging Union flags above our front door,” David Stephen wrote in an email. “And more importantly, I remember he bought a TV so we could watch it,” said Stephen, who grew up in Derby, England, but now lives in Toronto.

Jamie Hill, of St. Agatha, Ont., said he remembers being four years old and going next door to watch the coronation on his neighbors’ TV in Kitchener. His grandmother went to London and managed to get a ticket into the stands for the motorcade, which was “terribly exciting”, he said.

Her grandmother then purchased four pieces of a tapestry created for the coronation. A framed piece still hangs in Hill’s home.

By all accounts, the 1953 coronation was a lavish event, with a procession that stretched three kilometers in length, according to Garry Toffoli, executive director of the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust. Then-Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent was one of hundreds of Canadians inside the church, while a large contingent of the armed forces and RCMP marched in the procession.

Canada is also specifically mentioned in the Queen’s Oath to Rule.

Currently, few details have been released on how King Charles’ coronation will be marked, whether in the UK or Canada.

Details of Canada’s participation in the ceremony, as well as events in Canada, “will be released at a later date,” the Privy Council said in an email.

But Toffoli and royal fans believe King Charles’ coronation is likely to be a lesser affair than his mother’s, given the king’s preference for a slimmed down monarchy and the fact that people in the UK and around the world are struggling with inflation.

“To take out the gold coach and spend millions right now, in my opinion, they have to be careful,” Hill said.

Hess agrees the coronation is likely to be scaled back due to economic issues, but believes there will still be a lot of spectacle ‘because nobody does it like the Brits’.

She and Peapell said they would be up early to watch the coronation, but their camping days outside Buckingham are behind them. Instead, they’ll watch the way so many Canadians watched the last one — on TV.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 17, 2022.

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