Today in history: The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2nd, 1953

Queen Elizabeth II's Accession in 1952
Queen Elizabeth II's Accession in 1952

On June 2nd, 1953, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary started her tenure as the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

Queen Elizabeth II almost didn't become queen. She was third in line to the throne when she was born behind her uncle, King Edward VIII, and her father, The Duke of York. Her fate changed when her uncle decided to abdicate his position in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. On December 11th, 1936, Edward explained to the world via radio broadcast his decision and immediately the kingdom went to his younger brother Prince Albert, Duke of York, who succeeded to the throne as George VI.

Elizabeth's father reigned until his death in February 1952. She immediately became the new monarch and performed the duties of the sovereign, but did not have her official coronation until the following spring because the nation was in a period of mourning.

The 25-year-old mother had a glamorous ceremony at Westminster Abbey. Her coronation was the first to be televised, making her an instant cultural icon across the world. An estimated three million spectators in London viewed the pageantry in person.

Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, marking the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne.

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