The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
(public domain)

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, married the then Duke of York in 1923, and they were not expected to succeed as King and Queen. However, when her husband’s elder brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson, they became the new King and Queen.

King Edward VIII’s coronation had been planned for 12 May 1937, and the original date was kept.

A few changes were made to the ceremony, but the entire ceremony remained largely the same as the 1911 coronation of King George V. It began with the anointing and crowning of the King and the homage by the peers. Following this, the Queen was crowned. Both were crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He later wrote, “The little Queen, the only woman present with an uncovered head awaiting its anointing and its crown, advanced with the real poetry of motion, her dignity enhanced rather than diminished by the tall and beautiful figure of her Mistress of the Robes (the Duchess of Northumberland). The King (as many said afterwards) looked like a medieval knight awaiting his consecration with a rapt expression in his eyes, which turned neither to the right nor to the left. Their demeanour, sustained throughout the whole long ceremony, seemed from the first to invest it with a spirit of reverence.”1 Queen Elizabeth was attended by the Duchesses of Buccleuch, Norfolk, Roxburghe and Rutland.

Besides Princess Margaret and the future Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Mary also attended the coronation. This was a break with tradition but was done at her own request.

The Imperial State Crown had been reworked for the occasion, and a new crown was made for Queen Elizabeth from platinum, which also featured the Koh-i-Noor diamond. She wore a silk satin gown with gold thread embroidery in a rose and thistle pattern. Her maids of honour were dressed by Norman Hartnell. They were Lady Margaret Cavendish-Bentinck, Lady Diana Legge, Lady Elizabeth Hester Mary Paget, Lady Elizabeth Ivy Percy, Lady Iris Mountbatten and Lady Ursula Manners.

Elizabeth’s coronation ring, previously worn by Queen Adelaide, Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, was placed on her finger. She was also handed the sceptre and orb, which had been made for Mary of Modena.

Queen Elizabeth’s mother, the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, later wrote to the Archbishop, “Now that this great coronation is past & that we are all quiet and composed once more, I want to write a few words to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful help that you gave to my little Queen all through that great and magnificent service, for I felt that without your spiritual aid, she could not have carried it through so calmly & beautifully as she & the King did, for it was a great & awe-inspiring ordeal for them both. I think that nearly everyone felt the great spirituality of this coronation & this I know is entirely due to you & I shall ever remember this with real gratitude.”2

Queen Elizabeth also wrote to him, “I was more moved & more helped than I could have believed possible. It is curious, on thinking it over now, that I was not conscious of there being anybody else there at the communion… You told us last Sunday evening that we would be helped, and we were sustained & carried above the ordinary fear of a great ceremony. Our great hope now is that as so many millions of people were impressed by the feeling of service and goodness that came from Westminster Abbey, that perhaps that day will result in strength and good feeling in individuals all over the world and be a calming & strengthening influence on affairs in general.”3

  1. Elizabeth: the Queen Mother by Hugo Vickers p.156
  2. Elizabeth: the Queen Mother by Hugo Vickers p.159
  3. The Queen Mother: the official biography by William Shawcross p.404

About Moniek Bloks 2732 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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