Monday, September 12, 2022

Family memories of Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne and subsequent Coronation

I am of an age to remember learning to sing God Save the King at primary school, to remember books and magazine articles on the royal family including the bombing of Buckingham Palace and the role of the princesses during the Second World War.

The death of Queen Elizabeth brought many of these memories back, as well as the Coronation, the Royal Visit in 1954 and subsequent festivities and visits. At the time the Queen visited Armidale in 1970 I was already in Canberra so missed the visit there, but was invited to a gathering at the ANU Union when Charles visited there. Not that we talked. I was just in the background while he moved elsewhere in the room. 

Later I watched his wedding and also saw he and Diana pass in Sydney, My old school had links with Gordonstoun and Prince Edward, links that continue to this day.  Given all this, I thought that I would indulge myself by taking you back to the early days of Queen Elizabeth's reign where there was a family linkage. 

In 1952-1953, my grandfather David Drummond visited the UK together with Gran and Aunts Kathleen (Kay) and Margaret. Fa, I always called him Fa because I couldn't pronounce grandfather, was then Member for New England having previously been a member of the NSW Parliament and a long standing Minister for Public Instruction (Education).  

King George V1 had died in February 1952 and the new Queen while not yet crowned had already assumed ceremonial duties including on 10 June 1952 the first presentation to court of the new reign. Lady White, the wife of the High Commissioner to the UK, arranged for the Drummond girls to be presented to court. By happenstance, and as reported somewhat  breathlessly in the Armidale Express, Kay was the first deb to be presented followed by Margaret.

I was struck by the bolded reference to the elastic dress-belts as the height of fashion. They along with deb presentations were about to pass into history! Kay would teach in London, elocution and drama, at a private drama academy. 

The following photo shows the dress Kay wore at the presentation.  

On 12 July 1952, there was a garden party at Buckingham Palace. This photo shows the Drummond family arriving at the Palace for the party. 

My grandparents. Things were definitely more formal then! 

Gran with the girls after the garden party. 

And here is a family shot taken at the party.

The Drummonds were still in London at the time of the Coronation, purchasing tickets to watch.

Kay took notes and typed them up later. Her diary follows.

Page One

Page 2

Page 3 

Page 4

One week later the final event was the Derby. None of them would ever forget the the collective experience