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Hele's School

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Fit for a King

Author: Alice Shelley; Chief Editor

Fit for a King

Sugary tea, British bulldogs, Jane Austen novels, and fish and chips. These are all stereotypically ‘British things’. Britain has many traditions. One of these (possibly the greatest of all) is the mighty Coronation. A scarce event, marking a new era. As a nation we have closed the door on the Elizabethan period and entered a glittering new Carolean age.

You may think ‘Carolean? There is no queen Carol!’ However, Charles in Latin is Carolus and Latin is the traditional language of England and other countries.

18.8 million viewers tuned in to spectate at the Coronation. Not to mention the colossal crowds of people gathered in London. I was one of those watching from the coziness of a home and sofa. I will be sharing my experience alongside my grandparents' experience of a vastly different Coronation.

I asked both grandparents questions about Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation. I am interested in comparing our modern-day Coronation witnessed by our grandparents, great-grandparents, and great, great-grandparents.

It came across clearly that both grandparents felt quite privileged to have experienced two Coronations and still vividly remember the first one. Although (they said) it feels like an awfully long time ago. That day is still very much with them. My grandma said she feels “old”.

They described the atmosphere’s enormous joy and how this huge celebration marked not only a new era but also the end of a war era. It was the first time in years that the people could be happy and excited without the strain of war and its lasting difficulties dragging them down. The party-filled mood of the last Coronation is not dissimilar with this year’s celebrations. Although our country is very much split on the idea of modern monarchy, so many people had a fun-packed weekend with parties and gatherings.

Back in 1953, at my grandparents' schools, there was celebrating to be done! A special assembly was held, there was a special meal, and each child received a commemorative souvenir depending on the school you went to. My grandpa had a big mug, and my grandma was given a cup and saucer set. In this day and age, my cousin (who is in primary school) was given a pin badge. Secondary school children were not given anything. This could have been for environmental reasons, packaging, and plastic or cost.

On the actual Coronation Day in my grandparents' time, they went to friends' houses to watch the crowning. There were hardly any televisions in the town let alone the street. Apparently, it was a miracle to witness this event, even if there were people blocking your view and elbowing you. Today, there were huge screens everywhere, displaying the Coronation left, right and centre. You could switch on any device and watch it.

After the war, food was largely rationed so having new and exciting dishes only made the Coronation more special for my grandparents. They talked in detail about the coronation chicken (a kind of spicy chicken salad) which is still a favourite of many people today, and they enjoyed some sweets, which were a rarity. My grandma mentioned fish paste sandwiches that she ate at a street party. I had bacon sandwiches with my cousins and was glad it wasn’t fish paste!

With our modern technology and extensive media coverage, anyone who happened to miss the Coronation could easily view as much or as little on catch up or endless news coverage. Whereas in 1953, if you didn’t watch it there and then, you had missed it.

In conclusion, these comparisons show just how much life changed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The fact that we have witnessed another Coronation shows how our monarchy provides an element of consistency through time, whether we agree with having them as head of state or not.