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News > From the Archive > Coronation Term: Extracts from The Campbellian, Vol 13, No 3, 1953

Coronation Term: Extracts from The Campbellian, Vol 13, No 3, 1953

Eye witness accounts from members of the CCF and an Old Campbellian who attended the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
Campbellian Vol 13, No 3 July, 1953
Campbellian Vol 13, No 3 July, 1953



This summer Term of 1953, Coronation Term, will stand out in our memories with a lustre second only to that of the Summer Term of 1951, when, on the First of June, we received in the hand of Queen Elizabeth, now the Queen Mother, acting on behalf of His Late Majesty, King George VI, our Royal Charter. As Coronation Day, itself, took place during the Half-Term exeat, we were all given the opportunity of following the historic service and ceremony, word by word and action by action as it was recorded by television or radio and no one can have failed to be moved by the grandeur and simplicity of the precision and sincerity and by the atmosphere of dedication which characterised this tremendous occasion...

...Turning to the absolute perfection that characterised the ceremonial of Coronation Day, whether within the Abbey or outside it, whether civil or military, and to the absolute perfection that characterised the BBC’s recording of it, we may do well to consider for a moment the immense amount of solid and exacting work that must have been put in behind it all, and to remind ourselves of the salutary fact that no duty or task of any kind, no matter how superficially insignificant, can, in fact, be properly carried out without a great deal of hard work.

As for what might be called our more immediate participation in the Coronation, we are privileged to record the presence in the Abbey of two of our most distinguished Old Boys, Lord MacDermott, the Lord Chief Justice, and the Rt, reverend JKL McKean, Moderator of the General Assembly and Chairman of our Board of Governors; while the five of our present members, who were included in Major Lytle’s provincial CCF party, obtained from their station on the Victoria Memorial an excellent view of the processions. Some account of the experiences of these latter will be found in the Literary Supplement. At the time of going to press, some two hundred of us are looking forward to lining part of the route to Stormont on the occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s visit to Belfast on the second of July, an honour which has not, we believe, been accorded the contingent since the inaugural opening of the Parliament Buildings by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, now the Duke of Windsor in 1932.

Not mentioned above, there was an additional OC, Surgeon Rear-Admiral Robin Mussen (1248) in attendance at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and also of her father King George VI. Robin wrote an in-depth account of the proceedings of both coronations in his memoirs which we published last year in our archive post On this day June 2nd. Robin’s account of the King's Coronation provides considerable detail of the events as he was one of the on-duty physicians during the ceremony. This provides us with some insight into the ceremonial proceedings that will take place for King Charles III.


Literary Supplement

The Coronation

Five of us were fortunate enough to be members of a CCF party from Northern Ireland detailed, under the command of Major Lyttle, to attend the Coronation. Having crossed on the Saturday night, we assembled on Eaton Square at 5.30 am on Tuesday; and thence, on a cold, windy and wet morning, marched through gathering crowds, elated still further by the news of the conquest of Everest, to the Victoria Memorial. On the Memorial, which was reserved for youth organisations, we had an excellent vantage point beside one of the Lions facing down the Mall and overlooking the crowds.

The Troops lining the Mall were of the Brigade of Guards, and, with capes removed, the scarlet tunics, stretching into the distance, were most spectacular. We saw neither the procession of foreign representatives which formed up along the Mall, not that of the Queen Mother; but the Foreign Potentates and the Prime Ministers, proudly escorted by mounted police of various nationalities, and the Guards, a swaying mass of bearskins, did go by us: the most memorable figures were perhaps those of the gallant Queen of Tonga, the irrepressible Sir Winston Churchill and the multi-coloured lancers; and, we noted too, the impeccable bearing of the mounted RUC, escorting Lord Brookeborough.

The Queen’s Progress was heralded by the passage of the Mounted Band, the Household Cavalry and the Beefeaters and finally, as the Golden Glass Coach, drawn by the Eight Windsor Grays, swung round the Memorial amid thunderous applause, a tremendous surge of patriotism and regard, inspired by our radiant and beautiful Queen, swept through the crowd and burst in acclamation upon the Royal Couple. Her Majesty, with the Duke of Edinburgh at her side, appeared serenely confident. We were very fortunate that the Queen was on our side of her truly magnificent carriage in both processions.

And so, by 10.45am, the procession had passed. We then sat down to a picnic lunch, during which we listened to the service in the Abbey. We were fortunate yet again in being able to see the military procession moving from Constitution Hill, pas the Memorial, down Birdcage Walk to the Abbey and so forming up in preparation to march off. This proved to be an interesting diversion during our rather desultory six hours of waiting in the intermittent rain and nagging wind. At last, at about 4.45pm, the Colonial and Commonwealth Contingent reached us and, following these diversely colourful and emblematic troops, among those ranked were the well-known Mounties, came the Royal Air Force and Royal Marin Contingents led by the famous Marin band. And finally the imposing Foot Guards swung by. The magnificent spectacle, besides being almost beyond comprehension is quite beyond a truthful description. The vat numbers, colours, uniforms and variety, with the music, atmosphere and splendour of this amazing pageant, sweeping down the Mall, left an indefinable impression of the grandeur and magnificence. Unfortunately, the Coach Procession preceding her Majesty’s had, of necessity, to pass somewhat hurriedly, and two abreast; however, we were lucky in that the Queen Mother, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Duchess of Kent all passed our side.

And finally the Queen herself, outshining her gilt coach, appeared resplendent, brilliant and radiantly happy, with her Crown, Sceptre and Orb.



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