The Coronation Memories

Travel Talk

Picture the scene, living rooms all over the country crammed with people  peering at the latest modern invention, a tiny 10’ black and white television!   With the smallest of figures to be seen, and centre stage a lovely young woman, wearing St Edward's Crown, set to officially become Queen, in a centuries old ceremony in Westminster Abbey during the BBC's biggest ever outside broadcast.  An estimated 20 million people watched the ceremony, in 44 languages.  The Queen was just 25 when she replaced her father, George VI as monarch in February 1952, having been married to her gamorous young husband for less than 5 years.  Both our Diamond Jubilee prize winners remember this happening, and they were as far apart as Coventry and East Lothian.
Jean Vranic remembers having just moved to a new council flat in Coventry, where the estate she lived on had a fancy dress costume competition for the children.  Jean’s mother made her a majorette’s costume, in soft white material, with gold braid decorations and a tall hat.  Did Shirley Temple wear something like this in a film?  Jean was drilled in baton twirling by her father, until perfection.  And it paid off, she won first prize!  Which sadly, was a doll’s china tea set, not something she wanted at all.  Amazingly, Jean recently came across the gold baton she had twirled, a broom handle and a large wooden knob, all painted gold.  Jean also remembers that the back yard she played in all those years ago had a bomb crater in it, something she had to keep well away from.   The TV she watched the coronation on belonged to a popular local lady, Aunty Jean, whose front room was packed to rafters with neighbours all desperate for a glimpse of the new Queen.
It seems that many children were given a mug to celebrate the coronation, with a picture of the Queen on it, and Jennifer Nisbet received one too.  She was 8 at this time, living in Prestonpans, a small mining and industrial town, in Scotland.  And her birthday was in June, so celebrations all round, however the family were moving house, so a party wasn’t possible.  Instead, she was given her own majestic ‘throne’ moment, perched on her father’s armchair, high up on the especially cleaned coal lorry that carried her family’s furniture and goods across town to the new house.  A very special treat!  Jennifer, too, squeezed in to visit a friend to watch their TV in a room packed with people, many of whom had never seen television before.
Even though 60 years have passed, the significance of the coronation seems etched in the memories of those who watched it, a day of celebration and the early beginnings of television.  

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