Yesterday Queen Elizabeth II of Britain was present at a service of thanksgivings at Westminster Abbey in London which, two days late, celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of her coronation in that church on 2 June 1953.
To mark the occasion the crown which she was crowned with, St Edward’s Crown, was taken out from the Tower of London for the first time in sixty years and placed on the altar with the ampulla used for anointing the monarch. Together two items symbolised the two most important parts of the coronation ceremony: the crowning and the anointing.
St Edward’s Crown is only used for the crowning, and before the monarch leaves Westminster Abbey it is replaced by the Imperial State Crown, which is also the crown the monarch wears for the State Opening of Parliament. The reason for this is that the original St Edward’s Crown was assumed to have actually belonged to Edward the Confessor and was therefore treated like a relic which should never leave his burial church. This crown was destroyed when England was a republic (1649-1660), while a new St Edward’s Crown was made after the restoration of the monarchy for the coronation of Charles II. Although the current St Edwards’s Crown is not original and even though it is no longer kept in Westminster Abbey, but in the Tower of London, the tradition of two crowns is upheld (the exception being Edward VII, who had just undergone a rather serious operation and was crowned with the lighter Imperial State Crown in 1902).
Queen Elizabeth was joined at the service by her husband Prince Philip, who is apparently suffering from a cold and had missed an engagement the previous night. Also present were the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York and his daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugnie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their daughter, Lady Louise Wessex, the Princess Royal with her husband Sir Timothy Laurence, her children Peter Phillips and Zara Phillips and her children-in-law Autumn Phillips and Mike Tindall, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael. Princess Alexandra is ill and did not attend.
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