|Westminster Abbey, with special annex|
The coronation was held on June 2, 1953 at Westminster Abbey. Every coronation for the previous 900 years had been held there (prior coronations were held in various locations throughout the country).The last coronation had been that of her father and mother, George VI and Elizabeth, in 1937, which Queen Elizabeth had attended. June 2nd was a rainy and cold day, and the crowds outside - including many that had slept on the streets - were wet but happy: news reached London that same morning that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had reached the summit of Mount Everest. The victory for New Zealand's adventurer was hailed as a coronation gift, and yet another reason to celebrate.
|The Queen's procession|
The coronation was attended by 8,251 guests, including the peerage and dignitaries from around the world. As a comparison, the 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge filled the very same venue with just around 1,900 guests. The coronation guests were packed in on two levels, and media personnel inside were chosen for their slight builds. An annex was built on the west end to allow the long processions to form under cover, since there wasn't room inside.
|During the ceremony|
Princess Marie Louise, one of Queen Victoria's grandchildren, was one guest who went a slightly different route: she brought a supply of gin and tonic. Once she made it back out to her carriage (assistance was required, as you might expect), she hung out the window in the rain to wave to the crowds all the way back to the palace (much to the frustration of her carriage-mates). Marie Louise was 80 years old and was one of a select group in the audience who were attending their fourth coronation. She witnessed the coronations of Edward VII, George V, George VI, and Elizabeth II.
Another guest impervious to the rain was the cheerful Queen Salote of Tonga. The instantly recognizable monarch - she was over 6 foot tall, with a frame to match - became a crowd favorite when she rode in her carriage without any cover despite the damp conditions, waving all the way.
This was the first coronation service to be televised (in 1937 just the procession was filmed), and it was the first major worldwide BBC television broadcast. Some estimates say that 27 million people watched the 27-year-old monarch be crowned. Winston Churchill and others were against televising the ceremony, but Queen Elizabeth wanted as many people as possible to be able to watch. Still, the anointing - the most sacred portion of the ceremony - was performed underneath a canopy and shielded from the cameras.
|Crowned, with peers all around|
|The Gold State Coach|
|On the Buckingham Palace balcony|
|Lights and crowds on the Mall|