About Us





More Features

People, Places & Events



Book Reviews




by Sir Charles Petrie Bt
Editor (1944-1976)
The Household Brigade Magazine
The Coronation Edition 1953

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the day of her Coronation. 2nd June 1953

Now that three months have elapsed since the Coronation took place, it is well that before it passes into history, we should see it in its proper perspective and distinguish the permanent lessons which it has to teach from any temporary emotions which it may have aroused in us at the time of its occurrence: for it should have a very definite message for all The Queen’s subjects in whatever part of the world they may live. It was not just a spectacular event— it was a ceremony of the deepest significance, and its real meaning will be lost if it is not considered in that light.

First of all, it concentrated for a period of several weeks the attention of the peoples of the Commonwealth upon what they have in common and not upon what keeps them apart. In the modern world we hear so much of the sins of our neighbours, of their alleged selfishness and lack of patriotism, that in normal times we are all inclined to forget that we have anything in common with them. Where the Commonwealth overseas is concerned the position is even worse, for their national interests too come into conflict. The Coronation has induced a very different frame of mind, and it will be a calamity if some, at any rate, of the effects of this change of attitude did not endure. In Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the day of her Coronation we have seen typified all that is best in the British Commonwealth—the spirit of service and self-sacrifice, and that should be a source of inspiration in whatever dark days may lie ahead. The Commonwealth, in all the five continents and the seven seas, is one family, and at the head of this family is The Queen. This is by no means the least important lesson of the Coronation.

Then, again, it has taught a new generation the meaning and value of tradition. Sixteen of the most trying years in British history had elapsed since anything of the same nature had taken place, and the younger people had been brought up in a hard world of drabness and austerity. With the coming of the Coronation it seemed as if the dawn had broken after a long and particularly weary night: the Throne of England ceased to be a mere constitutional abstraction and became a reality with all its glowing pageantry as the symbol of a thousand years of history. The past was no longer a series of dull chapters in a school text-book, but it sprang to life as something which had a very definite influence upon the present. ‘The councils to which Time is not called, Time will not ratify’, said Sir Walter Raleigh, and millions of people had this fact borne in upon them for the first time on 2nd June last. If only for a brief space they were at one with their ancestors down the ages.

Perhaps the role of the Crown was best defined by that very experienced wearer of it, Elizabeth I, when she said: ‘To be a King and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it. For myself, I was never so much enticed with the glorious name of King or Royal authority of a Queen, as delighted that God made me His instrument to maintain His truth and glory, and to defend this kingdom from peril, dishonour, tyranny and oppression’. We may be sure that the great Queen’s successor and namesake who reigns today regards her duties in exactly the same light.

In one respect in particular the Coronation was a revelation to the stay-at-home Englishman, and that was in the strength and variety of the representation of the Commonwealth overseas. As compared with 1911 and 1937 there were certainly some obvious gaps, but, if by way of compensation, there was a loyalty and an enthusiasm shown by the lesser-known, at any rate to the general public, territories, which was as unexpected as it was encouraging. One can only hope that the warm reception given to their representatives by the crowd convinced them that their presence was greatly appreciated. The Commonwealth may not be as large as it was, but the Coronation celebrations have proved that there is still quite a lot of it left, and the demonstration of this fact cannot but have a salutary effect both at home and abroad.

No Guardsman is likely to forget Her Majesty’s words when she succeeded her father as Colonel-in-Chief:

‘Whilst each Regiment possesses its own individuality and its own customs, an unshakable bond embraces them all: it is founded, I know, upon devotion to their Sovereign, and service to their country, and I am proud indeed to become Colonel-in-Chief of this great fraternity’

It was in this spirit that the Brigade performed its Coronation duties.

The ties between the Sovereign and the Brigade have been strengthened even more recently by the appointment of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh to be Colonel of the Welsh Guards, and this appointment forms, if one may use the expression, a fitting close to the Coronation celebrations. The part which The Duke of Edinburgh is called upon to play in the public life of the country is not an easy one, but in the comparatively short time which he has been playing it he has impressed his individuality upon the British people, and in these circumstances the Brigade will consider itself the more honoured by the fact that The Duke is now a member of it.

Thus, for all Guardsmen, as for the general public, the Coronation and its attendant festivities should serve not only as a memory of the past but as an inspiration for the future; that is to say, as an inspiration of loyalty to the Throne and of comradeship with one another.

© Crown Copyright