Interest in the royal family has never been higher than it’s been in the last several years. In addition to Queen Elizabeth becoming the longest-reigning monarch, her grandson William, second in line to the throne, got married and he and his wife, Duchess Catherine, had two (soon to be three) children. William’s younger brother Harry also got engaged – to American actress Meghan Markle – and the public is eagerly anticipating their May 2018 wedding.
The debut of the Netflix series The Crown, now in its second season, has also helped spark the public’s interest in this famous family.
Now, almost 66 years after becoming queen, Her Majesty is looking back to the beginning of her reign and sharing her special memories with us.
On January 14, the Smithsonian Channel will air a documentary called The Coronation in which the queen with share her own memories of and insights into that special day in 1953.
As she watched footage of herself being driven in the extravagant horse-drawn golden carriage that took her from Westminster Abbey, where every coronation since 1066 has been held, through the streets of London and back to Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty recalled the bumpy ride with little fondness.
“Horrible,” she said. “It’s not meant for traveling in at all. I mean it’s only sprung on leather. Not very comfortable. It can only go at walking pace. The horses couldn’t possibly go any faster. It’s so heavy.”
The film, which will include rare, never-before-seen footage, also delves into the story of the 140 items (and 23,000 precious stones) that make up the Crown Jewels.
While many little girls gleefully imagine wearing a crown or tiara, Queen Elizabeth notes that wearing the crown is not all it’s cracked up to be.
For the actual coronation ceremony, the monarch wore the St. Edward’s Crown, which weighs a whopping 4 pounds 12 ounces! She has never worn it again.
After the ceremony, she switched it out for the Imperial State Crown, which still weighs an impressive 3 pounds. While the queen still wears this crown for some formal events, she says it is quite cumbersome, and maybe even dangerous!
“You can’t look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up. Because if you did your neck would break, it would fall off,” she said.
But while she admitted there are “some disadvantages to crowns,” she did note that “otherwise they’re quite important things.”
The queen, who is now 91 years old, was only 25 when she ascended to the throne. Most people alive today did not see her coronation, and it might be difficult to imagine the reverence, awe, and solemnity that accompanies such a momentous occasion.
For Queen Elizabeth, that day was full of many emotions and she was well-aware of the weight that now sat on her shoulders; but she was also ready and willing to take on her role as sovereign.
As she watched the footage of her own coronation, the queen reflected back on that of her father, King George VI.
“It’s the sort of, I suppose, the beginning of one’s life really as a sovereign,” she said. “It is sort of a pageant of chivalry and old-fashioned way of doing things really. I’ve seen one coronation and been the recipient in the other, which is pretty remarkable.”
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We are already learning so much just from the film’s trailer! We can’t wait to watch the documentary in its entirety when it airs on Sunday!
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