Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave at the crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palac...
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10 Incredible Photos From Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation In 1953

Prince Charles was so little!

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It’s been 70 years since the United Kingdom crowned a new monarch. Seven decades since King George VI died and left his oldest daughter Princess Elizabeth, a young married mother of two, to be crowned as Queen of England. It was an emotional time for the country as everyone mourned the King who had seen them through World War II and looked toward a future with a young queen they had watched grow up from infancy. It was presumably an emotional time for Queen Elizabeth herself as well, to stand in front of the entire world to become Queen at just 25 years old, which is perhaps why photos of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation are so poignant to look at now, when her own 74-year old-son is about to be crowned King Charles III.

As the world ushers in a new era with King Charles III following Queen Elizabeth’s passing last year, it feels right to look back at her own coronation 70 years ago in June 1953. When the King Charles himself was just a little boy and his mom was so young herself.

Prince Philip organized much of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

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When Queen Elizabeth was officially crowned in 1953, her husband Prince Philip was named as Chair of the Coronation Commission. He was incredibly involved in every detail of his wife’s coronation, ensuring the day went off without a hitch. He was also the first person to kneel before his newly crowned wife to pledge his loyalty to her, saying at the time, “I, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, do become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks. So help me God.”

King Charles was just 4 years old at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

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While his 2-year-old sister Princess Anne was not expected to attend the long coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey, 4-year-old Prince Charles was there along with the Queen Mother and his aunt Princess Margaret. As heir to the throne, it certainly makes sense that Prince Charles would be expected to attend. He even got his own special invitation. But this photo of him gives a sense of how excited he was to be there. He couldn’t look more bored if he tried.

Millions of people lined up to see Queen Elizabeth in her gold coach.

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When Queen Elizabeth made her way from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey for her coronation, she traveled in the Gold State coach pulled by eight horses. The coach has been around since it was built for the coronation of King George III in 1762, and is rarely used in an effort to preserve it. Naturally it was pulled out for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, but apparently it was so cold she needed a hot water bottle strapped under her seat to keep her warm. So fancy to look at but not that warm.

Queen Elizabeth wore an incredible crown at her coronation.

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A coronation calls for a Queen’s fanciest crown, and in 1953 Queen Elizabeth chose the Imperial State Crown to rest on her head. She also carried the Sovereign’s Orb and the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, all of which are part of the Crown jewels. While that all looks incredibly glamorous, just think about how difficult it must have been for Queen Elizabeth to walk around at her own coronation. That crown alone looks like a real neck-breaker, weighing in at five pounds and set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls, and 4 rubies.

Queen Elizabeth was joined by her family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace.

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After being crowned as Queen Elizabeth, the new sovereign returned to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey to greet well-wishers by the millions. She was joined by her two children as Princess Anne was now included and, much like her brother Prince Charles at Westminster Abbey, looking less than enthused to be there. Other members of the family like Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother looked happier to be with her, and of course Queen Elizabeth herself was generous with the crowds. She returned to the balcony six times to greet her subjects. That’s a lot of encores.

Queen Elizabeth’s coronation was the first to be televised.

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As Chair of the Coronation Commission, Prince Philip was instrumental in the decision to televise the coronation. A sacred event that had previously only been seen by a select few. This time around, 27 million Brits and 85 million Americans tuned in to watch Queen Elizabeth be crowned, and in a speech given later that day the new monarch explained why this decision was so significant:

“The ceremonies you have seen today are ancient, and some of their origins are veiled in the mists of the past. But their spirit and their meaning shine through the ages…Many thousands of you came to London from all parts of the Commonwealth and Empire to join in the ceremony, but I have been conscious too of the millions of others who have shared in it by means of wireless or television in their homes. All of you, near or far, have been united in one purpose. It is hard for me to find words in which to tell you of the strength which this knowledge has given me.”

Queen Elizabeth was a young mom of two at her coronation.

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While Princess Anne was considered too young to attend Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, she posed for photos back at Buckingham Palace with the rest of the family. In fact, Prince Charles seemed to take a bit of comfort in having his little sister there with him. In the official photo of the royal family from that day, brother and sister are leaning into each other and Prince Charles finally looks a bit more relaxed. It’s a good thing Princess Anne will be by his side for his own coronation. He clearly draws strength from her.

Queen Elizabeth's official coronation portrait was on UK money.

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Queen Elizabeth’s official coronation portrait probably looks familiar to anyone who spent money in the United Kingdom in the ‘60s. That photo was featured on the one pound note starting in March 1960. Queen Elizabeth’s face has graced many different bank notes through the years, but this one was her first.

The Queen Mother dealt with Prince Charles during the coronation ceremony.

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Bringing a 4-year-old to a major event is never an easy feat, especially for a mom who is pretty busy getting crowned as the Queen of England. Which is why having on-site, trusted child care made life so much easier for Queen Elizabeth when it came to Prince Charles. He sat in the wings of Westminster Abbey flanked between his grandmother Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) and his aunt Princess Margaret, and they were really on top of making sure he was well behaved at the coronation. Although they didn’t really stop him from looking bored but you can’t have everything.

Millions of people stood in the rain to see Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

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When Queen Elizabeth’s coronation day came in June 1953, it was a cold, wet, windy day. But that didn’t stop a whopping 3 million people from lining the streets to honor their new Queen. Standing elbow to elbow under umbrellas, many people were lined up days in advance to find a good spot, all in an effort to possibly get a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth being pulled down the road to Westminster Abbey in her gold coach. Considering they could have stayed home and watched on television, this was actually quite an impressive show of support for the new Queen and her family.

King Charles’ coronation will look very different from his mother’s own crowning in 1953. The world is a different place now. He is a different kind of monarch. He is a father and a grandfather, a man in his 70s, while she was a woman at the start of her life. And while new technology and a changing culture makes for a different coronation, there’s still something timeless about watching a new monarch be crowned. Especially if they get pulled around in that gold coach.

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