How the Coronation propelled television in 1953

As Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the 65th anniversary of her Coronation, we explore our archive to bring the historic event back to life.

By Alice Rizzo, assistant editor

Princess Elizabeth was only 25 years old when she became Queen at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. A life-altering effect the event surely had on the young Elizabeth, it's also been widely viewed as the moment that changed the future of television.

Reminiscent of the recent Royal Wedding media frenzy, the Queen’s Coronation was watched by millions around the world. It was the first time television brought a nation together and, according to the BBC, it was watched by over 20 million people making it their biggest outside broadcast at the time.

After such resounding success, the BBC experimented with new topics, escaping the banal coverage of post-war austerity. Together with new channels, television ownernship increased after 1956 with an increasing number of people buying televisions for their homes.

It was at Queen Elizabeth's insistance that her Coronation was broadcast on the BBC so that everyone could join in the occasion.

Members of the general public were invited and television became a classless medium.


Princess Elizabeth giving 21st birthday broadcast
Queen Elizabeth Coronation Day
Queen leaving in procession
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II shown in Bond Street Gallery

Discover moments that shaped history through the most extensive international archive in the world, now available on Reuters Connect


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