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RA QEII/PRIV/PERS (view the document)

The Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Coronation took place on 12 May 1937 in Westminster Abbey.

Among the members of the Royal Family attending were their daughters Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II), then aged 11, wrote this account of the day ‘To Mummy and Papa In Memory of Their Coronation’. It is not only an eyewitness account of a momentous occasion in the lives of her parents, but is also written by a young girl who would herself one day go through the same experience.


At 5 o’clock in the morning I was woken up by the band of the Royal Marines striking up just outside my window…

We went along to Mummy’s bedroom and we found her putting on her dress. Papa was dressed in a white shirt, breeches and stockings, and over this he wore a crimson satin coat. Then a page came and said it was time to go down, so we kissed Mummy, and wished her good luck and went down…

[In Westminster Abbey] we went up the steps and into the box. There we sat down and waited for about half-an-hour until Mummy’s procession began. Then came Papa looking very beautiful in a crimson robe and the Cap of State.

Then the service began.

I thought it all very, very wonderful and I expect the Abbey did, too. The arches and beams at the top were covered with a sort of haze of wonder as Papa was crowned, at least I thought so.

When Mummy was crowned and all the peeresses put on their coronets it looked wonderful to see arms and coronets hovering in the air and then the arms disappear as if by magic. Also the music was lovely and the band, the orchestra and the new organ all played beautifully.

What struck me as being rather odd was that Grannie [Queen Mary] did not remember much of her own coronation. I should have thought that it would have stayed in her mind for ever.

At the end the service got rather boring as it was all prayers. Grannie and I were looking to see how many more pages to the end, and we turned one more and then I pointed to the word at the bottom of the page and it said “Finis”. We both smiled at each other and turned back to the service…