The Queen’s Coronation : Behind Palace Doors

Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation marked a new reign and Prince Philip was in favor of showcasing a fairly modern monarch. But the elders in the royal family including Queen Mary, Elizabeth’s grandmother, and Queen Elizabeth I, Elizabeth’s mother, were in favor in carrying on tradition. So inevitably there was friction.

When King George VI died in his sleep at age 56, it prematurely thrust Elizabeth II age just 25 into position of the Queen. King George VI restored the monarchy after it was shaken up due the abdication of the throne by King Edward. And Queen Victoria and the Queen Mother wanted to continuity and stability for the monarchy. And Prince Philip’s modern ways was interpreted as a threat to the monarch, as had been King Edward’s non traditional ways.

In addition to Queen Elizabeth II having to adjust to her new role, so too did her husband Prince Philip. Because she was at center stage in her professional life, Philip was given full reign at home. He went from being a naval officer to having to support his wife full time, and walking two steps behind her.

The change in role meant Elizabeth and Philip had to move into Buckingham Palace. The Queen Mother still lived there, as well as Princess Margaret. Prince Philip was surrounded by women, after being used to living with all men in the navy.

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Prince Philip thought that marrying into the royal family meant that his children would logically be given his last name, which was Mountbatten. But there was an objection and it was decided that the House of Windsor would remain the official royal family name. So in addition to having to be in the shadows of his wife, he also wasn’t able to give his children his family name. In some ways he felt emasculated and upset at the lack of acknowledgement.

Recognizing that Philip needed a role he was given complete control over the children’s education and of the estates. And he was also the head of the coronation committee, which was to be the biggest event of the 20th century. There was still a lot of issues of tradition vs. modern as the planning went on. Sixteen months were given to plan the coronation.

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People who were involved with the coronation were interviewed and gave their thoughts on the grand ceremony. After much deliberation it was decided that the coronation would be televised. It allowed millions of viewers to witness the event as never before. It went off as a success. But allowing the media in meant that they continued to follow events of the royal family both good and bad.

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