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

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.

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Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953
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Today in history: The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2nd, 1953
Royal Family on Balcony at Buckingham Palace, London, pictured after Coronation, 2nd June 1953. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
(FILES) Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) accompanied by Prince Philip waves to the crowd, 02 June 1953, after being crowned solemnly at Westminter Abbey in London. Queen Elizabeth II was set Thursday 20 December 2007, to become the oldest monarch, overtaking her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria amid signs the royal family is preparing for life after 81-year-old 'Lillibet'. Victoria died in 1901 aged 81 years and 243 days, and Elizabeth will mark passing the milestone with neither pomp nor ceremony, spending the day as usual with her husband of 60 years, Prince Philip. AFP PHOTO/FILES (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the ceremony in which the newly ascended monarch, Elizabeth II, was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, and Pakistan, as well as taking on the role of Head of the Commonwealth. 2nd June 1953 (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The royal carriage of Queen Elizabeth II passes along Victoria Embankment on its way to Westminster Abbey, on June 02, 1953, during the ceremony of coronation of the Queen. The Queen was solemnly crowned at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II poses with the royal sceptre 02 June 1953 after being crowned solemnly at Westminter Abbey in London. Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen in 1952 at age 25. (Photo credit should read STF/AFP/Getty Images)
Queen's Guards marching along Pall Mall as part of Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation procession, London, 2nd June 1953. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II walks to the Royal Enclosure during the Coronation Cup match between England and Argentina at Cowdray Park, UK, accompanied by Weetman Pearson, Lord Cowdray (1910 - 1995, right), 21st June 1953. Following them is the Duke of Edinburgh (left). She presented the cup to Argentina after they won the match 7-6. (Photo by Chris Ware/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Picture taken on June 2, 1953 at London showing a moment of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey. (Photo by - / CENTRAL PRESS PHOTO LTD / AFP) (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
The Band and Corps of Drums of the Welsh and Irish Guards march down Northumberland Avenue ahead of the gold state coach carrying the Queen to Westminster Abbey for her coronation 2nd June 1952. (Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen's coach passing through Admiralty Arch on the way to Westminster Abbey before the ceremony. 2nd June 1953. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the ceremony in which the newly ascended monarch, Elizabeth II, was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, and Pakistan, as well as taking on the role of Head of the Commonwealth. (Picture) Bishops paying homage to the Queen. 2nd June 1953 (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Winston Churchill gives his two finger salute to the crowds from the lead carriage of the Procession of Prime Ministers during the journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The procession escorted by IVth Queens Own Hussars 2nd June 1952 (Photo by Reveille/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Royal Family on Balcony at Buckingham Palace, London, pictured after Coronation, 2nd June 1953. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Lord Gifford leaving for Westminster Abbey with his wife. 2nd June 1953. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Soldiers of the Cameroon army marching towards Hyde Park Corner during the procession. 2nd June 1953. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Peers outisde Westminster Abbey, assisted by boy scouts. 2nd June 1953. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Families get together at the Stockingford Liberal Club to celebrate the Queen's coronation. Many of the party hats were give aways with Brooke Bond Tea. 2nd June 1953 (Photo by Coventry Telegraph Archive/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth Coronation 2nd June 1953. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh on her way to Westminster Abbey, the procession passed King Charles Statue. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The Queens Coronation at Westminster Abbey 2nd June 1953. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Prince Charles and Princess Anne watch from Buckingham Palace. 2nd June 1953. (Photo by Syndication/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Soldiers and sailors sleep on the pavement outside Buckingham Palace as they wait to see the Queen on her Coronation, London, 2nd June 1953. Original Publication : Picture Post 6537 - The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth - pub. 13th June 1953 (Photo by George Konig/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Residents dancing at a party to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, held in Morpeth Street in London's East End, 2nd June 1953. Original publication: Picture Post - 6542 - Cockneys' Own Party - pub. 13th June 1953 (Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
TODAY -- "The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II" -- Pictured: (l-r) NBC News' H. V. Kaltenborn, Frank Blair covering the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953 -- (Photo by: NBC News/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (2nd L), accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (C), Prince Charles (3rd L), Princess Anne (C), Queen mother Elizabeth (3rd R) and Princess Margaret appears on a balcony of Buckingham Palace, on Coronation day, on June 02, 1953 in London. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II (centre, left) and members of the royal family watching an RAF fly-past from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Queen's Coronation ceremony, London, 2nd June 1953. Next to the Queen are (left to right): Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
NBC NEWS -- "The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II" -- Pictured: NBC News' George Hicks reporting from Trafalgar Square while covering the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953 in London, England -- (Photo by: NBC News/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NBC NEWS -- "The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II" -- Pictured: Engineers and technicians covering the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953 in London, England -- (Photo by: NBC News/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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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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