June 2nd, 1953, was one of the most eagerly anticipated dates in living memory, and responsible for the sale of more TV sets than any other single event before or since!
That was the day chosen for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the historic ceremony played out in Westminster Abbey.
The 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth had actually become Queen in February 1953 on the sudden death of her father, King George VI, at the age of 56. However, months of planning were needed for all the pomp and ceremony of a coronation, and the date in June was chosen in the hope of a sunny day.
The long delay meant months of mounting excitement, and a huge surge in the sale of TV sets after it was announced that the coronation would be televised by the BBC. Still in its infancy, television was seen by many as a passing fad and TV sets were expensive luxury items. But away from the capital those with televisions found their homes crowded with friends and neighbours.
At Westminster Abbey more than 8,000 guests, including prime ministers and heads of state from around the Commonwealth, watched Elizabeth take the Coronation Oath. As the crown was placed on her head a shout of 'God Save the Queen!' was heard, followed by military gun salutes and cheers from the huge crowd gathered outside.
An estimated three million people lined the streets to watch the new Monarch's procession between the Abbey and Buckingham Palace, riding in the magnificent golden State Coach. Street parties were held around Britain, but the nation fell silent to hear the new Queen's radio broadcast, in which she pledged: "Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust."
More than 60 years on, our Queen – who became Britain's longest reigning monarch on September 9th last year – is still keeping that pledge.