Sunday, 2 June 2013

Remembering the Coronation

The 60th Anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place on June 2, 1953. Around 8,200 guests witnessed the historic proceedings, with 27 million people staring at the events on the graining 425 line black and white television sets.
There's a game called "connections" when you see how many people you have connecting you with someone. I can play it with the Coronation; a very close connection, because my mother was in London to see the procession. So that's pretty close! I was actually completely unaware of this, as she only mentioned it to me when I was wondering out loud whether any St Brelade Parishioners had been in London, and she said that she had been. There's something wonderfully joyful in discovering a part of your family history that you didn't know before like that - family stories are usually interesting but small scale, and then suddenly there's a connection to an event on the world stage.

Incidentally, if anyone reading this from Jersey also has memories of going to London, and would like to share them, I'd love to hear from them and put them up on this blog for others to read.

Meanwhile, this is her account, as first seen in "Parishioners Remember" in La Baguette, the St Brelade's Parish Magazine:

BACK in 1953, there was a special airline day trip to go to London from Jersey offering Islanders the opportunity to see the Coronation procession of Queen Elizabeth II.

St Brelade Parishioner Ann Shepard saw this advertised at the specially reduced rate of £6 per person, in the JEP. That does not seem a great deal now, but her weekly take home pay back in 1953 was just £5, so it was more than one week's wages. But it was a chance of a lifetime, and she decided to go with her friend Beryl.

Along with other Islanders, the two 19 year olds had to be at the Weighbridge at 5.30 in the morning, where a coach took them to the Airport. The trip was popular, and she remembers that the Dakota airplane was full.

In the middle of the flight to England, the Captain announced over the communications system that news had just been received that Sir Edmund Hillary had reached the summit of Mount Everest. He was the first climber to achieve that goal. The press called the successful ascent a coronation gift. In London, they took a train to Hyde Park, where they saw the Queen and the Coronation Procession proceeding along Birdcage Walk, followed by all the other dignitaries, most notably Salote, Queen of Tonga, in her open carriage. After the Coronation, they saw the Queen again, now processing towards Buckingham Palace.

After the crowds had gone, Ann and Beryl made friends with two young South African men, who had also been watching the show, and they were treated to a meal out. But all too soon, it was time to get the plane back to Jersey, and Ann remembers being so tired that she slept for the entire flight. But it had been a memorable day, and one she still treasures.

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