Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 14 June 2013

Crowning Glory

This month Queen Elizabeth II celebrated the 60th anniversary of her coronation. I don't remember the event as I was a baby at the time, but my mother tells me that the family had a television for the occasion. My parents were never well-off and would have had to make some sacrifices to be able to afford it. My mother wanted a washing machine but my father insisted that the television would benefit everyone (!) whereas the washing machine would have made only my mother's life easier. Mum's pleas that she would have been less worn out by domestic drudgery and therefore a much nicer person to live with, thus ensuring the entire family benefited, fell on deaf ears. Mum continued to wash the family laundry in an old fashioned copper 'boiler' and then put it through a mangle. All the neighbours, who had purchased modern cleaning and washing machines, but failed to equip themselves with the means to watch this exciting event, went round to my parents' house to share their television for the occasion.

The picture on the right is made available on Wikimedia Commons here. The inscription states:

"Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom during a state banquet in honor of Brazilian president Lula da Silva at Buckingham Palace, London. The Queen wears the insignia of the Grand Collar of the Brazilian National Order of the Southern Cross (namely, the Grand Collar itself and the Star). Also worn are the insignia of the Royal Family Orders of Kings George V (white background) and George VI (pink background), and also the aquamarine necklace and other jewels that were given her by the Government of Brazil as a Coronation gift, as well as the aquamarine tiara, commissioned by the Queen in 1957 to match the jewels that had been given to her by the Brazilian Government."

That is an awful lot of jewellery, but most of it was worn for diplomatic reasons, not because it matched her eyes! It was only right and proper that she should wear the jewels bestowed upon her as coronation gifts by the Brazilian Government. I do like the idea that the Queen commissioned a tiara to match the necklace, making accessorising so much easier, and of course with all that sparkle the handbag had to be silver.

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week shows a woman 'with elaborate cameo jewelery and off the shoulder dress'. I thought she's raided her jewellery box in order to show off off all her treasures, but beside the photograph of the Queen she appears positively understated. When I chose the prompt I had no idea what I was going to post, but watching footage of the coronation I realised I couldn't let the occasion slip by without a mention and searched for images on the web. The one above is a 'gem' if you'll pardon the pun.

I may not have a memory of the coronation but I do have an official souvenir programme. I also had a coronation crown coin at one time too. Many were minted and can be found on ebay for very little.

I have copied the contents of the programme and they can be found on flickr here. I like the black and white portrait of the young Queen on the first page, quite a contrast to the one above. I also enjoyed reading the poem by the Poet Laureate of the day, John Masefield, who has featured before on my blog, in 'Mad March Days', and 'The Box of Delights'. It's interesting to compare it with 'The Crown', written by the present Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, to celebrate the Queen's sixty years on the throne.

Shakespeare, in Henry The Fourth Part Two says, "Uneasy lies a head that wears a crown," and it's certain that the Queen has had many hours of unease during her reign, and I'm sure she wondered if she would still be monarch so many years hence, when she made her smiling appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the coronation ceremony. And for Over The Top adornment, how about the model crown in the picture, being assembled in Brisbane, Australia to mark the coronation.

Both pictures above come courtesy of Flickr Commons. Prepare to be dazzled by more sparkling examples from the treasure chests and jewellery boxes of Sepia Saturday participants with their responses to this week's prompts.


  1. Congratulations with the Diamond Jubilee, and I wonder if you grant her the right to retire, or do you think she is entitled to stay Queen until the very end of her life?

  2. I have to say I admire (&agree) with your Dad's logic!

  3. I'm afraid to say that your Dad's logic would not go down well in this household, particularly as I'm the one who does most of the washing, and I seem to have the least say in what TV channel/programme we're going to watch. The souvenir programme is a fine piece of ephemera, almost in the fashion of illuminated manuscripts.

  4. We've been to see the crown jewels in the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle but just imagine having to store, clean and catalogue all of the other stuff they have tucked away somewhere else.

  5. I hadn't see the Masefield poem before; the least said about Duffy the better.

  6. I think I remember seeing part of the coronation on TV.

  7. A lovely interpretation of the prompt and one that had not occurred to me. I too still have my Coronation Programme, together with a souvenir book of the event and that was when we had our first TV - a tiny Bush set - 10 inch screen I think.

  8. Nice post, Nell. I enjoyed both poems, each having their own merits. Capturing the essence of a historical moment is hard enough and, with the weight of history itself, pushing in on all sides, virtually impossible.

    I smiled when you mentioned the story of your dad's determination to have a TV for the occasion. My grandparents had one of only two sets in the village, at the time of the coronation. Apparently, the sitting room was laid out with rows of chairs - all shapes and sizes - for neighbours and friends. It was a full house, but nothing compared to the numbers of evacuees they had during the war. Twenty six at one point! There wouldn't have been room for a TV then, even if they were available.

  9. Well like they say, Father Knows Best. Lovely stories and photos and also to include the Coronation photo, it's a beautiful presentation.

  10. The Queen has been true to her word - "devoted to your service." I've never seen the crown jewels in person, but the whole business of the various crowns is fascinating. One crown for this event, another crown for that event; this crown is available for a wedding. How does that all work and who decides??? Here in the good ol' U S of A, politicians choose a power tie to exert authority and inspire confidence but roll up their shirt sleeves to show they're just one of the guys. So simple.

  11. I remember watching on our tiny tv when I was about 5. I do think your mother should have gotten the washing machine. He would have seen how useful it was to everybody if he'd had to wash his own clothes in the was tub. men, splat.

  12. Lovely interpretation for today's challenge!!! As a Canadian I love our Queen and the royal family!

  13. No getting away from it - she does look rather splendid in that top outfit!

  14. Amazingly, I also have a programme - found in my mum-in-law's belongings after her death. I remember the kids getting fairly excited as they thought it might be worth a bob or two. Aren't the young patriotic and sentimental.....*ahem*

    It's a very good picture of the Queen. What a fabulous match the tiara made!

  15. I am with Kristin, I think the washing machine should have been the families priority to make your Mums life easier. I do understand the novelty of a TV was tempting. I wonder what else was sacrificed in the realm to watch the queens coronation day?

  16. I too have a copy of that Souvenir Programme. Having recorded the full parade a couple of weeks ago, with the help of the order of appearance in the programme, I was able to exactly identify the 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters group, although the quality did not enable me to recognise my father who commanded that contingent from Derby. I was 2 and a half, and only remember it as I was told I should in later times...we watched it on our new TV bought for the occasion. Scroll down at:

    1. OK, Nigel, now you can get back under the table ;-)

  17. When I saw all the jewels at the Tower of London, unlike others, I thought, "Uh huh. They don't look real." Not being a person easily attracted to bright shiny objects, I was probably the only person to rush by the jewels looking for the next bit of history that might entice me. I don't know why, but I stare at jewelry and feel nothing. Now and old photo can turn me into a dithering idiot.

    Fascinating post.

  18. Eh, I also have that souvenir programme.
    You'll remember I once mentioned that commemorative bell I have:

    I think the aquamarine necklace would have been sufficient,
    to my taste, along with the tiara.
    Can't fight protocol though...

  19. I was smiling while reading about neighbors sharing your family TV. Some Southeast Asians do exactly the same thing.

    Her Majesty will always be fascinating to me. Back in the day when we were little we would get to wear a crown with a design like hers at the end of Vacation Bible School. Ours was made of cartolina and we were so proud :)


  20. Yes, this is one aspect of government we Americans cannot relate to. When I see a woman with a tiara on her head I think "oh how pretentious" and that she must have a high opinion of herself. Usually it is some vapid celeb-utante promoting her latest "reality" show, or claiming she is a REAL housewife. :-)


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