Our Queen at 90: A Celebration
On Thursday 21st April, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be celebrating her 90th birthday. Over her 90 years she has led a life filled with experiences and changes that her many predecessors could not have even begun to imagine. With the changing nature of technology the world has become a much smaller place, and so the Queen has become a beloved figure to many people beyond the nations she serves as Head of State and Head of the Commonwealth.
Westminster Abbey has been privileged to be a part of some momentous moments within the Her Majesty’s 90 years including both her wedding ceremony and her coronation ceremony. The Queen was married on 20 November 1947 to Prince Philip of Greece at Westminster Abbey, five years before she ascended to the throne. She was the tenth royal bride to be married at Westminster Abbey.
The wedding was attended by approximately 2000 guests, and in keeping with the post war austerity the church was modestly decorated with flowers only being displayed in large vases either side of the high altar. The Grave of the Unknown warrior was the only stone that remained uncovered by the special carpet that was laid down, and the following day the Queen undertook a tradition started by her mother and sent her wedding bouquet to the Abbey to be laid on it. The Queen and Prince Philip have since attended thanksgiving services at the Abbey to commemorate their Silver, Golden and Diamond wedding anniversaries.
A little over five and a half years after her wedding, Westminster Abbey would once again host a major event in the Queen’s life, her coronation. The ceremony took place on 2nd June 1953, although the Abbey was closed from 1st January that year to ensure that there was time to transform it for the service. Work took place across Great Britain to prepare the many thousands of yards of fabric needed to deck the Abbey out for the occasion, including the 20 yards of hand woven velvet needed for the Queen’s coronation robe. The many months of phenomenal preparation culminated in the Queen being crowned at exactly 12:34.
In reviewing the role that Westminster Abbey has played in the Queen’s 90 years, I can’t help but think about the opportunity it has presented me with to celebrate her reign. The key highlight would have to be when the Abbey held a service to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen in June 2013. I felt a tremendous sense of pride in being there for the event, particularly as I was among a smaller group of staff that got to wave the Queen goodbye following her celebratory lunch within the Abbey.
I would like to invite you all to share your own memories of the Queen over her 90 years. Whether it be getting to meet her in person, or a memory of a special event such as a coronation, please comment and share with us the impact she has had on your life.
For more information on the Queen’s Wedding or her Coronation you can click here.