In the Theatre, the procession for the Recess was prepared and after having been disrobed of the Robe Royal and the Supertunica and having now her magnificent Robe of purple velvet – embroidered in gold and trimmed with ermine – on her shoulders, the Queen left the small door of the Chapel into the Sanctuary, as a fanfare was played. She was now wearing the most impressive jewel of the whole royal collection, the Imperial State Crown, which was impressively shining over Her Majesty’s head. Having on her right hand the Sceptre with the Cross and on her left hand the Orb with the Cross, the Queen, surrounded as always by the Bishop of Bath and Wells and the Bishop of Durham, slowly proceeded through the Sanctuary and the Quire and then down the Nave. At the same time the National Anthem was sung.
The procession down the nave was immense, beautiful and impressive. The Queen looked much more relaxed now, smiling at each side, looking impressively beautiful, royal and majestic. Her train was taken by six maid of honours and she was followed by the Mistress of the Robes, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, and preceded by all the great officers of state. At each side of the procession, the Gentlemen of Arms escorted the Queen. The Crown Imperial was played by the Orchestra as the procession went down the nave. As the Queen entered into the Annex, all the state guests who had arrived in special processions, the sovereigns and the prime ministers of the Commonwealth states and the members of the British Royal Family went down the nave and left the Abbey in their coaches, preceding the Queen and getting part in the long procession through London.
A wide cheer came as Her Majesty the Queen, crowned and holding Crown and Sceptre, left the Annex and climbed into the Gold State Coach, preceded by her husband, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. As the coach started its journey through the streets and acclamations of London, the long military cortege also started moving. All the different colours of 29.200 uniforms filled the streets of London. The colourful cortege passed through Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, St. James’ Street, Piccadilly into Hyde Park, under the Marble Arch, down Oxford Street and into Regent Street, again through Trafalgar Square and then under the Admiralty Arch up The Mall to Buckingham Palace. It included colours, sounds and traditions from all over the world, since around 2.500 of the soldiers had come from the countries members of the Commonwealth of Nations: Rhodesians in shorts, Pakistanis with their long moustaches, Hindus in their turbans, Scots in their kilts and playing their pipes…
The cheers of the people went high as the open landau under pouring rain of HM the Queen of Tonga and the other sovereign passed by, as well as when the closed landau of Sir Winston Churchill, in his Garter robes, went through. The following cheer went to HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and HRH Princess Margaret, in the Irish State Coach. But, of course, the loudest cheer was reserved to the magnificent state coach, bearing the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The scene was almost impossible to describe, with so many details to put on and each and every one of those as picturesque as the other. At Buckingham Palace, the cameras captured as HRH the Duke of Cornwall and HRH Princess Anne looked up from one of the windows of the Palace and waved as their mother’s carriage approached, up The Mall.
The Queen looked radiant and smiled openly. Thousands of voices sung the National Anthem as it was played by the band in the courtyard of the Palace, as the carriage passed through the gates. At 4.30 pm, almost five hours after she had left her Palace towards her coronation, the Queen was back home. Outside, the crowds pushed towards the Palace since everyone wanted to witness the much expected balcony scene, which would include a display of the Royal Air Force’s planes. At 5.15 pm, still wearing the Imperial State Crown and looking absolutely delighted, the Queen appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, accompanied by her husband and her two children and her pages and maids of honour. The Queen Mother, the Princess Margaret and other members of the Royal Family also joined the party in the balcony and they all pointed at the planes when they approached, so that Prince Charles and Princess Anne could see it.
Inside the Palace, the consecrated royal photographer Cecil Beaton made the official photographs of the Coronation, in a totally different style of what had been done in the previous coronations. In the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace an historic group photo was made, with all the Royal Family and also members of other royal families invited to the ceremony. For several times during the evening the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh returned to the balcony of the Palace to acknowledge the continuous cheers and acclamations from the crowd of several million people who flooded The Mall the rest of the day. At 9 pm the Queen made a radio address to the nation. For a last time, and already in an evening gown and wearing King George’s State Diadem, the Queen came to the balcony accompanied by her husband, who wore smoking.
It was from there that the royal couple, while being acclaimed by the hundreds of thousands in The Mall and around Victoria Memorial, witnessed the most magnificent firework display that had ever been made. The fire was set in The Thames but it was possible to see it all the way up to the Palace, given its magnitude. As the couple appeared on the balcony, the decorations in The Mall were enlightened, the most brilliant end to a brilliant day. Never had a coronation of a British sovereign drawn so much attention, never had it been so well prepared, never had it gone do well. A fantastic journey witnessed by millions (some estimations put the number at six million people in London to witness the long cortege, but the sure number is 3 million) in the streets of the British capital, by many millions more through television around Britain and the world. A ceremony that captured the imagination of several generations and still provokes admiration for its grandeur and sumptuousness.