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1950s / Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II - 1953
I was surprised to discover no one had yet posted a clip of Queen Elizabeth's coronation--so I took the liberty of doing it. On February 6, 1952, George VI, the reigning monarch of the British Commonwealth, died from smoking-related health problems. He was just 56 years old. By the rules of succession, his eldest daughter, 25-year-old Elizabeth, became the new Queen. She was making a goodwill tour of Kenya when she learned she was the new British monarch. Her ceremonial coronation took more than a year to plan. It finally occurred on June 2, 1953. Here is a four-minute clip of her receiving the various symbols of power. Because coronations happen so rarely--and this is the most recent--few people realize how religious the ceremony is. (The monarch is supposed to be "the Defender of the Faith.") Recorded for posterity in spectacularly rich color, the film looks like it could have been shot yesterday--not in 1953. Because satellite broadcasting was not yet a reality, special arrangements were made for North American TV viewers to see the event as soon as possible. The undeveloped film of the ceremony was put aboard a Canadian fighter jet. A technician developed the film in a dark room while the plane was over the Atlantic. About five hours after the event occurred, the airplane landed in Canada. The freshly developed film was rushed to a CBC broadcast studio where it aired throughout Canada. American networks picked up the CBC's feed. Elizabeth II recently celebrated her 89th birthday. If she lives past the first week of September 2015, she will surpass Queen Victoria (her great-great-grandmother) as the longest-reigning monarch in British history. There's no reason to believe she won't attain that milestone. By all accounts Elizabeth II enjoys excellent health, she is still quite active, and her mother lived to be 102 years old.