Coronation 1953 memories: 'Cold, tired but happy'

time:2023-06-02 16:27:51source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:news

An 89-year-old woman has recalled how she spent 24 hours on the streets of London waiting for the coronation procession for Queen Elizabeth II.

Hilary Carpenter, 89, from King's Somborne, Hampshire, left a Cambridge exam early to book her place on the pavement in Trafalgar Square in 1953.

She said: "We cheered and cheered... You got chatting and singing with the people round about you."

The day's rain left well-wishers "cold, wet, tired but very happy", she said.

Ms Carpenter said she reached Trafalgar Square in the afternoon of 1 June 1953.

She recalled: "We got a pitch right on the front row, sitting on the kerb and we stayed there all that evening, overnight.

"It was very nice because they had stalls selling food and portaloo kind of things and if you wanted to go, the people round about you kept your space - they were all very nice.

"Huge [crowds], enormous numbers. In the procession there were all these regiments of soldiers from all over the world.

"They'd got the Mounties, they'd got the Gurkhas. Wave after wave of them and all these bands coming along - it was great.

"[The Queen of Tonga] sat in this open carriage in the rain and she waved to all the people and everybody cheered and she became so popular. She was lovely.

"When the procession passed we all went up The Mall to see them on the balcony. And so we were there all that evening. We were cold, wet, tired but very, very happy I think."

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