In the 50s, especially in the year of the Coronation, the monarchy was loved and adored by the majority of the population; when Elizabeth came to the throne there was an increase in Church membership, Sunday School enrolment, Easter Day communion, religious marriage and baptisms.
The UK was very conservative in morals and the national culture is spread through books, radio and magazines The television was born in those years with only one channel, the BBC, and a large part of the population had not television at home.
The coronation was organised by Prince Philip, earl Marchal and the Duke of Norfolk. The date of the coronation was chosen by Churchill who preferrred 1953 because in 1952 the economic crisis was still strong. He chose 2nd June, a day before the Derby Day, an important horse race. The Coronation on 2 June 1953 was both broadcast and televised on the princess Elizabeth’s advice, and it was watched by 20 million people and twelve million more heard it on the radio. People prepared parties in the streets, houses were painted red, white and blue (Union Jack flag) and there was a common sense of excitement. She was the symbol of the rebirth of the nation, she was a hope for the Britons. One million people came to London and slept on the street to see the procession with the Queen in the Golden coach.
The ceremony took place at Westminster and it goes back to the earliest days of the Anglo-Saxon kings. The Queen was to be crowned with St’Andrews Crown, made for Charles II. The ceremony began with the Archbishop of Canterbury declaring to the bishops: “Sirs, I here present unto you Queen Elizabeth, your undobted Queen” which was followed by God save the Queen.
The day after all the press proclaimed the “New Elizabethan Age”. A film of the Coronation was seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world. The fashion designer Chistian Dior declared to Time magazine: “The Coronation of the young Elizabeth II had filled not only the British but, rather strangely, the French too with renewed faith and optimism in the future. The whole world is royalist now.”
After the Coronation she broadcast to the Nation, with the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in which she promised to serve the nation, she thanked people and she asked for their support in each situation.
In November 1953 the Queen and Prince Philip went on a 6 month tour of the Empire and Commonwealth. They visited Bermuda, Jamaica, Fiji, Tonga, Australia, New Zealand, Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Uganda, Malta and Gibraltar. Her aim was: “to see as much as possible of the people and countries of the Commonwealth and Empire, to learn first something of their triumphs and difficulties and something of their hopes and fears… I want to show that the crown is not merely an abstract symbol of our unity but a personal bond between you and me.” In this tour the Queen tried to adapt to the beliefs and usage of the Commonwealth countries. The Queen broadcast her second Christmas speech from New Zealand with BBC operators and she spoke about the “new Elizabethan age”: “ …Frankly I do not myself feel at all like my great Tudor forbear, who was blessed with neither husband nor children, who ruled as a despot and was never able to leave her native shores. But there is at least one very significant resemblance between her age and mine.
For her Kingdom, small though it may have been and poor by comparison with her European neighbours, was yet great in spirit and well endowed with men who were ready to encompass the earth…”
When the Queen arrived in Palmerston she met the Dunedin ladies’ Brass Band, the only female brass band in the Commonwealth. Nancy Byrne remember this meeting: “ Growing up
during the war, we had no sort of idols… So we looked up to the little princesses, and if they wore a frilly dress, well our mothers gave us a frilly dress… And when the Queen was married, it was wonderful…”. This was the feeling for the Queen in the 1950s, she was an exemple, like a pop star now, for all the young women. In Australia three-quarters of the population came to cheer her. She was so tired, because she needed to smile all the time and she made speeches on many occasions, but she was very happy about the warm welcome. The royal couple left Australia in april 1954. The trip continued to Uganda where she said that she felt like an African Queen.
She came back to London and she was very happy to hug her children Charles and Anne. In London there was a warm welcome of her with people on the streets and when she arrived at Buckingham Palace she wrote to Winston Churchill about the monarchy: “ We have received visible and audible proof that it is living in the hearts of the people.”