Coronation 1953

1953, 2 June: Tony May: On Tuesday 2nd June 1953 I was at the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth 2nd in London. I was fortunate enough to be one of the eighty three officers from Surrey attending. Our job was to line the processional route in The Mall.

For this we were transported up the day before Monday 1st June, by bus to take part in rehearsals and a briefing and to be inspected by the Home Secretary at 10 am. When that was finished we had the rest of the day off so some of us went into the City where we met numerous other officers from all over the country. We spent that night in tents in Green Park and got up very early the following day.

Reveille was at 3.00 am; wash and brush up followed by breakfast. Then we had to be in position by 5 am. Inspector Bowles was in charge of my squad and Inspector Ezzard in charge of another. We were split into three sections, two lining either the north or south side of part of the Mall and the other along by St James Park. We marched down Constitutional Hill and round the statue in front of Buckingham Palace to our positions. I remember we got a cheer from the crowds already gathered.

We were spaced out with a Grenadier or Coldstream Guard in between each of us. I remember because of the weather the Guards couldn't make up their minds whether to wear overcoats or not and they were on and off several times. We were instructed to turn and face the crowd behind us which were over dozen deep, they were tiered up so those at the back could see. The crowd were very good humoured.

Before the procession passed there were numerous road sweeping vehicles going to and fro and even some on foot picking up what the horses had dropped! That usually got a laugh from the crowd.

When the royal carriage was passing we stood at attention facing the Queen. I thought at the time all this preparation and the carriage swept by in a matter of seconds. When the procession returned after the service to the palace the plan was that the police would form a cordon across The Mall behind the last Guardsman.

This didn't work very well because with about two hundred and fifty thousand people pursuing the procession in an effort to try and get to the palace gates we were just carried away and we found ourselves pinned up against the palace railings. At least I did get to see the royal family come out on the balcony.

It was a very long day as I remember we were given some small rations and the toilet breaks were few and far between. The weather which was uncomfortable, cold, damp and not very June like. Some of the others on the deployment were Geoff Mynott, Dennis Trinder, Larry Rhimes, Danny Shaw and Ron Bellchambers. I think we all got the Queen's Jubilee Medal for it eventually.

Return to main text

Surrey Constabulary badge