UK marks 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation
Archbishop of Canterbury praises monarch’s spirit of ‘utter self-sacrifice’
Queen Elizabeth leaves Westminster Abbey after celebrating the 60th anniversary of her coronation in London yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Andrew Winning
Sixty years ago, Queen Elizabeth’s reign began with torrential rain, but yesterday thousands gathered on London’s sunny streets to applaud her latest milestone.
Praising her, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said she had shown a spirit of “utter self-sacrifice”, “single-minded devotion and servant leadership” in a role she had not chosen.
The queen was accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip (92), to Westminster Abbey for the anniversary service. This was despite fears that he may not have been able to attend after he had to pull out of an engagement on Monday night.
More than 2,000 people thronged the abbey, including some of those who had acted as her maids of honour in 1953, along with 25 members of the royal family.
The 1953 coronation, said the Archbishop of Canterbury, had been “an ordination, a setting aside of a person for service.
“Once anointed, her majesty received symbols, symbols so monumental that they are only bearable by the grace and strength of God.”
Much of the hour-long service harked back to the coronation. Her arrival was greeted yesterday as it was in 1953 with choirs singing Sir Hubert Parry’s I Was Glad, drawn from Psalm 122.
The priceless gold St Edward’s crown, which she wore at the coronation after weeks of practice because of its extreme weight, was brought from the Tower of London to the abbey. It was the first time it had left the tower in that time.
However, not everything was based on tradition. The procession that brought the anointing oil to the altar included a lollipop lady, Victoria Adom.
Sporting the high-visibility jacket she wears for her daily duties, Ms Adom was joined by a girl guide, two schoolchildren, a nurse, a member of the House of Lords and a high court judge.
The high-visibility jacket worn by Ms Adom – who knew nothing about the role that she would play until the night before – provoked smiles throughout the abbey, particularly from the Duke of Edinburgh.
“I knew everyone was watching me in that uniform. Everyone was smiling – I don’t know if they were happy to see me or if they were surprised,” said Ms Adom, who came to Britain from Ghana.