It was the proudest day of her life. Queen Victoria would never forgot the cheering crowds, the magnificent Abbey, and the spiritual significance of her Coronation.
Queen Victoria had been Queen of her great nation for only a year but she was still only a teenager when she was crowned on 28 June, 1938. The excited young woman found it difficult to sleep the night before and woke up at 4:00 a.m. when she heard the guns. She went back to bed but she got up again very early and looked out at the park, which was filled with people, soldiers and bands. She probably felt nervous but she woke up feeling ‘young, strong and healthy’.
The crowds were thrilled to see the procession of colourful carriages and splendidly dressed foreign signatories. Huge shouts went up as the twelve carriages of Her Majesty and her attendants, each drawn by six beautiful bays, drove past. 400,000 visitors came to London to see the great day. Multitudes of people thronged every available space – streets, windows and balconies. They were all pleased to have a new young Queen after the rather eccentric Kings who preceded her.
The Queen entered the Abbey dressed in an exquisite white satin gown and bare-headed. Her eight train-bearers wore dresses of white satin and silver tissue with wreaths of silver corn ears and pink rosebuds on their hair. When she entered she paused for a moment and clapped her hands but she was seen to momentarily falter before she walked along the nave. Imagine what she must have felt as she looked at the splendour of the beautifully-decorated Abbey and the richly-dressed Peers and Peeresses who had come to watch her!
The young Queen apparently handled the day with wonderful grace and dignity. She seemed to watchers as if she floated down the aisle on a ‘cloud of white and silver’. Unfortunately, there had been no rehearsal and the poor Queen even had to ask John Thynne, the Sub-Dean, ‘what she had to do’ at one stage. Her coronation ring had to be forced onto her fourth finger by the Archbishop of Canterbury and she had to dip it in ice to remove it.
God really did show his blessing of the ceremony, however. As the young Queen knelt to receive the heavy Crown a ray of sunlight fell on her. The crowning was described by Lord Melbourne as a ‘most beautiful and impressive moment’.
Many also remembered the Queen’s kindness to the aged Lord Rolle afterwards. The 82 year old fell as he paid homage, but he was not hurt. Queen Victoria walked to the end of the steps to prevent another fall.
Lord Melbourne told the Queen that she had ‘done it beautifully’ when they discussed it later. In spite of the lack of rehearsal and minor problems, the young woman handled the momentous day well. Perhaps she was pleased that it was over but it must have been an anti-climax as well. What did she think as she stayed up till midnight watching the fireworks in Green Park?