2 June 1953: Queen Elizabeth II is crowned before an audience of millions

British TV changed for ever on this day in 1953 with the live broadcast of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen wasn't keen on being filmed inside Westminster Abbey

Global television events' are ten a penny these days, what with royal weddings, the Eurovision Song Contest and pretty much every sporting fixture under the sun being watched live by audiences of billions.

But that wasn't the case in the 1950s. Then, televisions were very much luxury items, and what they showed was, to be frank, pretty dull stuff. Britain had just one channel, and that only broadcast for part of the day.

Advertisement - Article continues below

That changed with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on this day in 1953. Along with 8,000 of the country's top toffs crammed into Westminster Abbey and three million lesser mortals lining the rainy streets of London, over 20 million people watched the whole show on their or, more likely, someone else's TV.

But it nearly didn't happen at all. A committee headed by Prince Philip ruled that no cameras should be allowed in the Abbey itself. The Queen wasn't big on being filmed her wedding hadn't been filmed in 1947; her Christmas broadcasts remained confined to radio; and at the Trooping the Colour, she insisted on only being filmed from a distance.

But she was eventually persuaded to change her mind, as long as there were no close-ups.

The whole thing took a year to organise. A crew of 120 worked on the day itself, with five cameras installed in the abbey and 15 along the route of the procession. The nation's infrastructure was upgraded so more people could receive the signal the country only had five permanent transmitters in 1953, so temporary transmitters had to be installed in lorries.

The event led to a TV boom. The number of TV licences rose from 700,000 in 1952 to 1,100,000 in 1953, and its success led to the introduction of Independent Television in 1955.




How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019

Are we back on the road to serfdom?

The coronavirus crisis has led to levels of state intervention unprecedented in peace time. The Austrian School reminds us of the challenges, say Dan …
22 May 2020

MoneyWeek's quiz of the week, 16-22 May

Test your recollection of the events of the last seven days with MoneyWeek's quiz of the week
22 May 2020
UK Economy

What are negative interest rates and could they happen here?

Negative interest rates – where banks pay you to borrow money – now exist in many parts of the world. John Stepek explains why they are a terrible ide…
18 May 2020

Most Popular

UK Economy

What bounce back loans can tell us about how we’ll pay for all this

The government will guarantee emergency "bounce back loans" for small businesses hit by Covid-19. Inevitably, many businesses will default. And there'…
1 Jun 2020

This looks like the biggest opportunity in today’s markets

With low interest rates and constant money-printing, most assets have become expensive. But one major asset class hasn’t. John Stepek explains why com…
2 Jun 2020

These seven charts show exactly why you must own gold today

Covid-19 is accelerating many trends that were already in existence. The rising gold price is one such trend. These seven charts, says Dominic Frisby,…
3 Jun 2020