After the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Nostalgia looks back at another momentous Royal occasion 55 years ago this week – the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
Manchester had already met its future monarch when the morning of the coronation came round on Tuesday June 2nd, 1953.
Princess Elizabeth had toured the city with her dashing husband Prince Philip in 1949, bringing a ray of light to the post-war austerity and gloom.
Factory workers, soldiers and statesmen alike were captivated by the poise and charm of the 22-year-old princess as she toured mills and reviewed troops in the region.
Four years later, it made everyone even more determined to celebrate the moment she was crowned queen in true Mancunian style.
It was time to break out the bunting and trestle tables for a good old-fashioned street party!
Days before the big event, city streets were so festooned with flags and paper chains that some turned into urban grottoes!
Steps had been scrubbed until they gleamed – but there was no washing done on Coronation Day. Most of the dolly tubs were used for holding up the flag poles for the street decorations!
People were so proud of their patriotic handiwork that they walked up and down the empty cobbles to view the decorations before the picnic tables were laid out.
Prizes were handed out to the best decorated streets. Stafford Street in Salford was one of the winners as each house door acquired its own little canopy of red, white and blue.
Pinnington Street in Gorton North was superbly over the top with a Union Jack hanging over a curtain of paper chains that divided to let people in!
In other areas, street lamps were topped off by crowns and banners were draped out of bedroom windows in readiness for the parties below.
It was a major bonus that sweet rationing had been lifted a few months earlier so children could tuck into a proper post-war treat.
In Salford, the coronation even got its own bus! As activities gathered pace before the big day, Salford City Transport unveiled a corporation double-decker complete with a trio of flags on the front and its own royal insignia.
Also parading around Manchester was a car converted into a giant mobile crown emblazoned with the letters ER 1953.
More than 14 months of planning went into the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey. It was the first to be televised and the last of four coronations in the 20th century.
Like Meghan Markle’s wedding veil, the Queen’s coronation gown was embroidered with the floral emblems of the countries of the commonwealth.
Unknown to the Queen at the time, a four-leaf clover had been sewn on the dress’s left side so her hand would touch it for good luck throughout the day.
The Queen wore the imperial State Crown during her daily duties in the days leading up to the coronation to get used to its weight. A sheet took the place of the velvet train.
As the Queen arrived at Westminster Abbey at 11.00am on the day of coronation, Mancunians gathered round their TV sets to watch the momentous event live. TVs had been set up in churches, meeting rooms and community centres so everyone could see.
To make sure Canadians could view the coronation on the same day, RAF Canberras flew BBC film non-stop across the Atlantic to Labrador’s Goose Bay.
Albert Square was the focal point of the city’s celebrations. Huge vertical banners hung from tubular steel poles in the national colours of red, white and blue.
Elaborate gold crowns topped tents of velvet drapes with the emblems of the United Kingdom laid out in rows beneath.
The flags of the United Nations were hung outside the Town Hall, each with its own plaque to identify the country.
Floral displays were spread around the city and hundreds of shops and businesses sported the royal insignia to make a continuous splash of colour.
Huge cheers went up around the city as the TV screens showed the Queen leaving Westminster Abbey in the gold state coach. She appeared later with the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne on Buckingham Palace balcony.
Parties went on well into the night as people danced in the streets to celebrate the crowning of their new Queen.
It had truly been a day to remember!
Many more unmissable pictures of the past can be found in Clive Hardy’s brilliant book Around Manchester in the 1970s – now on sale at a reduced price for M.E.N. readers.