For the past 900 years, the coronations of British monarchs – ceremonies filled with pomp, pageantry and religious rituals – have taken place at Westminster Abbey. But the first monarch to photograph his coronation was King Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s eldest son. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, take a journey through history to view the coronations of past monarchs. Here, see the best photos from the coronations of King Edward VIII, King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.
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King Edward VIII’s coronation was originally scheduled for June 26, 1902, but three days before his scheduled date he underwent emergency stomach surgery.
Foreign delegations did not return for the postponed coronation ceremony, August 9, 1902, so the celebration was largely a national affair.
King Edward VIII was still recovering from his illness, so he was crowned with the Imperial State Crown, not the heaviest St. Edward’s Crown.
Queen Alexandra was crowned with a brand new crown, Queen Alexandra’s Crown, for the coronation. It was made with the Koh-i-Noor diamond.
Prior to her husband’s accession to the throne, Queen Alexandra was Princess of Wales from 1863 to 1901 – the longest term to hold the title. She was also born a princess in the family of House Glücksburg. In 1863, her parents ascended the Danish throne as King Christian IX and Queen Louise.
King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra’s second son, George, was third in line to the throne when he was born, and he grew up not expecting to become king. However, his older brother, Albert Victor, died of pneumonia. George ended up marrying his brother’s fiancée, Princess Mary of Teck.
After the death of his father, George became king. He wrote in his diary: “I lost my best friend and the best of fathers…I never had a [cross] word with him in my life. I am heartbroken and overwhelmed with grief but God will help me with my responsibilities and my darling May will be my comfort as she always has been. May God give me strength and direction in the heavy task before me.”
The coronation took place on June 22, 1911.
Their children were all in attendance, including Prince Edward and Princess Mary (pictured here). Prince Edward was heir apparent and succeeded his father as King Edward VIII until he abdicated less than a year later. He never had a coronation and was the shortest-reigning British monarch.
The Delhi Durbar coronation, 1911
King George V and Queen Mary were proclaimed Emperor and Empress of India at a ceremony in Delhi in December 1911.
The Delhi Durbar translates to “Court of Delhi” and has only been held three times in history – 1877, 1903 and 1911.
King George V was the only British ruler to attend the durbar.
King George VI ascended the throne after his brother’s abdication. His brother’s coronation had been scheduled for 12 May 1937 – and it was decided that George’s coronation would instead take place on that date.
The coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth was the first to be filmed, although it was not broadcast.
The coronation of King George VI was the third coronation to take place in the 20th century.
The British royal family appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the coronation. George’s daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, are in the center.
A view of the crowds outside Buckingham Palace and the Royal Coach passing the Queen Victoria Memorial.
The procession inside Westminster Abbey, the site of the coronations of British monarchs for nine centuries.
Queen Elizabeth II, 1953
Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne when she was just 25 years old and her coronation took place fourteen months later.
Queen Elizabeth’s coronation was fully televised and broadcast live.
Prince Philip chaired the Coronation Commission and played a key role in planning the day’s events and deciding to televise the ceremony.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip waved to the crowd from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the coronation.
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