Yesterday, 2nd June, was the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
In a blast from the 1990s, a couple of 1990s politicians launched a book with the marketing tag “bring our head of state home”. It sounds like another of those great tag lines from the recent past, “a mate for head of state”. They claim we are all Elizabethans now, which apparently means we are just waiting around for the Queen to die. That was the cheery ‘happy anniversary’ from our political leaders and tabloid press.
In the coronation oath taken by the Queen back in 1953 she was asked “Madam, is your Majesty willing to take the Oath?”, to which she replied “I am willing”. The Queen was then asked “Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and the other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?”, to which she replied “I solemnly promise so to do.” The Queen was then asked “Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgements?”, to which she answered “I will”.
The Queen was then asked if she would maintain, in the United Kingdom only, the protestant religion and the Church of England, which she promised to do. The Queen then gave her oath in sight of all the people (vastly increased by being the first coronation to be televised) and before the altar of Westminster Abbey, kissed the bible and signed the oath.
Harold Holt, Australian Minister for Immigration and President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, sat to the right of the Queen and participated in the ceremony. 250 seats were reserved in the Abbey for Australians, and another 7000 on the procession route through London. Coronation festivities ran in Canberra over several days between 31st May and 4th June, as well as in communities around Australia and its territories. The ‘Coronation Contingent’ of 250 representatives from the defence forces sailed on HMAS Sydney and HMNZS Black Prince, arriving in England on 5th May. All members were awarded the coronation medal on the 3rd June, and on 15th June took part in the Coronation Review of Commonwealth naval forces at Spithead, southern England.
Some good sources for more information are the ‘Royalty Guide’ issued by the National Archives, and the Australian National Memorial’s ‘Coronation Contingent’ page. The coronation ceremony can be viewed here on YouTube.
Apart from the ‘bring our queen home’ book launch, the media has avoided any other Australian anniversary news such as the jubilee ceremony at Christchurch St Lawrence in Railway Square, Sydney (in the diocese of leading evangelical Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr Jensen, who complains that after 12 years of his episcopacy his church is still too narrowly English), the Perth Mint’s issue of a collector’s silver commemorative coin, the Royal Australian Mint’s issue of a commemorative 50 cent coin, Australia Post’s issue of two commemorative stamps, and the portrait of the Queen by Australian artist Ralph Heimans leaving the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra to be hung in
Reference: Stephanie Peatling, ‘Political rivals set aside differences for republic’, Sydney Morning Herald, 3rd June 2013, pages 4-5