The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

On February 6, 1952, King George VI of Great Britain died and his daughter, Princess Elizabeth, ascended to the throne.  Formal coronation of the new Queen took place on June 2, 1953.  President Dwight Eisenhower named as his representatives four members of the Special Delegation to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II:

  • George C. Marshall[1] – Personal Representative of the President with rank of Special Ambassador
  • Omar N. Bradley[2] – Representative of the United States Military Services with rank of Special Ambassador
  • Earl Warren[3] – Representative of the President with rank of Special Ambassador
  • Fleur F. Cowles[4] – Representative of the President with rank of Special Ambassador

Protocol clearly dictated formal attire for an event such as the coronation.  Several months before the festivities, the U.S. embassy in London transmitted the instructions issued by Buckingham Place in the following despatch from the 1950-54 Central Decimal Files (NAID 302021) in the Records of the Department of State, RG 59.

741.11[1-1653.1
US Embassy Great Britain to Dept of State, Despatch 3248, Jan 16, 1953, file 741.11/1-1653 p1
741.11[1-1653.2
US Embassy Great Britain to Dept of State, Despatch 3248, Jan 16, 1953, file 741.11/1-1653 p2
The delegation representing the United States had a full schedule of social events in which to participate in addition to the coronation itself.  A month before the coronation, the U.S. embassy in London sent the following tentative schedule.

The coronation took place as scheduled on June 2, 1953.  The next day the embassy sent the following report.

Celebratory events took place not only in London, but also in the British dominions such as Canada and Australia.  British officials in other countries celebrated, too.  The following report from the U.S. embassy in Warsaw, Poland, describes the coronation ball hosted by the British ambassador to that country.

A week after the coronation, the U.S. embassy in London reported on the importance of the coronation to the ties binding the British Commonwealth.

741.11[6-1053.1
US Embassy Great Britain to Dept of State, Despatch 5857, Jun 10, 1953, file 741.11/6-1053 p1
741.11[6-1053.2
US Embassy Great Britain to Dept of State, Despatch 5857, Jun 10, 1953, file 741.11/6-1053 p2
Queen Elizabeth II is now the longest-reigning monarch in British history.


[1] Army Chief of Staff during World War II, former Secretary of State, and former Secretary of Defense.

[2] Then serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

[3] Then serving as Governor of California and soon to be named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

[4] Socialite, writer, magazine publisher, patron of the arts, and supporter of Eisenhower during the 1952 election.

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