Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, is one of the longest-running monarchs in UK history. As of 2015, she took this title for having been on the throne for 63 years. It feels like a lifetime ago when she was actually coronated and given the throne back in 1953. However, was the event televised back then?
The Queen’s coronation was televised and was, in fact, one of the largest televised events of the era. With over 20 million people tuning in, there’s no denying that this televised event change television in the UK forever.
If you’re wondering what we mean by that, about how the Queen’s coronation played such a huge part in television history and got us to where we are today, then you’re in luck! Scroll down to find out more.
The Coronation Itself
While such a big and popular event, the Queen’s coronation wasn’t originally going to be televised. While televisions were becoming increasingly popular around the 50s, only a few households had them, and with the coronation being such a big and important event, is it something they wanted to worry about?
Of course, when you think about a big event happening today, it seems only natural that it would be broadcast and live-streamed to the rest of the world, but back then, this simply wasn’t the case. The decision came down to the Coronation Committee, which was led by Prince Philip himself.
Queen Elizabeth herself requested that the event wasn’t televised. Many upper members of the court also agreed that they wanted it to be private since it was such a unique and sacred event. In the past, only the highest-ranking members of society could be invited to such a prestigious occasion.
However, the event could be such a great way to bring the country together to celebrate, especially being only a few years after the end of World War II. The Queen compromised, and the Committee decided that cameras would be allowed in, but only so the procession could be shown, yet the ceremony itself would remain private.
Again, discussions happened, and the rules changed again, stating that the event could be filmed in its entirety, but no close-up shots of the Queen were allowed. In the end, the entire ceremony was filmed and broadcast to the UK nation, with only the anointing part of the ceremony removed.
Here you can see the event for yourself!
At the time, the coronation expenses were said to be around £1.57 million, which is you spent the same amount of money today on the same event, which would cost over £38 million. Wow.
Bringing the Nation Together
As above, over 20 million people tuned into the coronation, and since many households didn’t have television sets, houses that did instead hosted what came to be known as ‘viewing parties.’ This meant that one television would have an average of seventeen people from other households watching and celebrating.
Now, we say the event redefined television history and got us to where we are today, and it’s true. Because of the popularity of the event and how many people wanted to tune it, this eventually led to more and more television transmission masts being erected throughout the country, especially in rural areas.
So, on the one hand, you have a very popular event taking place that everyone wants to watch, and on the other, you have the steadily growing television boom where television is becoming more and more popular. Coupled together, you have the television explosion that took the country by storm. When you think about how many people have televisions and computers etc., in their homes today, this is where it all started.
At the time, televisions were even bought into public spaces so more people could watch. Some of the most popular places included churches, hospitals, and even festival locations and event halls!
Bringing the World Together
That’s not to say that only the UK had access to the live broadcast, but it was, in fact, broadcast all over the world, making the Queen’s coronation the first major world event to be broadcast at the time on an international scale.
Perhaps surprisingly, to make sure that the Canadian public could also watch the broadcast on the same day as it happened, the planes from RAF Canberra flew the BBC recordings of the coronation across the Atlantic Ocean to be broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
These also happen to be the first non-stop flights across the Atlantic between the UK and Canada. Imagine that now! With all this, it’s easy to see that the coronation event changed the world’s history as we know it and had so much impact, it’s hard to believe it was all so connected!