Britain celebrates 60 years since The Queen’s coronation, with fashion shows, afternoon tea and commemorative stamps.
A sea of purple and gold flags flying above London’s Regent Street signifies the start of national celebrations for the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s coronation.
At the heart of the celebrations is a service at the magestic Westminster Abbey on 4 June, but plenty of other events are being held in London and beyond to mark six decades of Her Majesty’s reign.
One of the most notable is surely the Coronation Festival, hosted by the Royal Warrant Holders Association in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. A four day event showcasing a range of companies with a Royal Warrant including Floris, Roberts Radio and Dege & Skinner – the makers of military uniform. The festival will be open to the public from 12-14 July, although the Royal Preview on eleventh will welcome members of the Royal Family, armed forces and charity representatives, before giving way to the fabulous Coronation Gala – an evening of music and dance that celebrates the cultural evolution that has taken place during The Queen’s reign, with performances by Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins and dancers from English National Ballet.
The Coronation Festival will have a strong focus on fashion, with a number of catwalk shows ongoing throughout each day. Highlights include the work of designer Joey Bevan who has created extraordinarily inventive garments such as a dress made of postage stamps, paper from royal stationers and another made out of the upholstery – including indicators and leather upholstery from British cars such as Land Rover, Jaguar and Bentley. Bevan has focused on keeping his materials recycled, British and in keeping with the celebrations: one of his pieces will include samples of soft furnishings from Buckingham Palace.
If you can’t make it to Buckingham Palace, a regal afternoon tea will be available nearby at the London Hilton on Park Lane on the same weekend. Anthony Marshall, Executive chef of the hotel’s Podium Restaurant has created a limited edition Coronation Afternoon Tea, which includes an elderflower jelly diamond presented on a purple cushion made of chocolate mousse and praline; a vanilla and blueberry macaroon; a dark chocolate edible picture frame encasing an image of Her Majesty’s coronation; a 1953 coronation stamp on a cupcake; a crown-shaped sable biscuit iced with the royal colours and a blueberry cupcake finished with gold leaves.
In Piccadilly at The Athenaeum Hotel a venture entitled ‘A Royal Summer’ is set to delight guests. The hotel launches a new afternoon tea menu in celebration of the coronation, which runs from 22 June to 31 August, accompanying a photographic exhibition of rarely seen photos of Royal children from Victorian times to the present day. The exhibition is curated by Ian Pelham-Turner, a former royal photographer.
A number of further exhibitions aim to take people back in time, to 1953 when the nation was preparing for 27-year-old Princess Elizabeth to be officially crowned Queen of the Commonwealth. Westminster Abbey’s Chapter House will hold a display of more than 40 stunning black-and-white photographs that beautifully revisit the excitement of the coronation. The images, some by renowned press photographer Bert Hardy, have all been blown up large and placed in special display cases. The Royal Collection will also exhibit some of its treasures relating to the coronation in the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. Photographs as well as jewellery and other garments worn by the royal party are there to be admired and evoke the atmosphere of 1953.
The British Museum is also getting into the spirit of the celebrations by launching its own collection of jewellery inspired by or reflective of glamourous, distinctive pieces worn by the royal family at various coronations over the years. A St Edward’s Coronation crown pendant is created out of crystals on 18-carat, gold-plated pewter is a quirky choice, whereas the beautiful Queen Elizabeth II silver-plated with Swarovski elements floret stud earrings pay stylish homage to our monarch.
The Royal Mail is launching six commemorative stamps, each one depicting a portrait of Her Majesty from each decade of her reign including the painterly 1953 work by Terence Cuneo and another piece from 1999 by Andrew Festing. Meanwhile the Royal Mint has produced a series of coins especially for the coronation celebrations.
With so much to inspire, what will you do to celebrate? Let us know by tweeting us @BritainMagazine.