The Queen’s Coronation: Behind Closed Doors (Royal Family)
The Coronation in 1953 appeared to be a glittering triumph for the House of Windsor. But behind the scenes there was a three-cornered story of jealousy and rivalry at the highest level.
On one side Prince Philip was at odds with the Queen Mother over his desire to modernise the monarchy. On the other the old Queen was jealous of her daughter’s sudden rise to power. The Coronation was a critical year for the young Queen Elizabeth. She was preparing to undergo the most ancient and important royal ritual, but the two people closest to her, the Queen Mother and Prince Philip had very different ideas about how it should be handled. Philip, the dashing but dangerously modern consort, was anxious that the Coronation should not be simply a stuffy replay of previous reigns. He wanted ‘some features relevant to the world today’. But he was fiercely resisted by the Queen Mother and by Princess Mary, who referred to Philip as ‘the Hun’.
The new Queen was caught in the middle. In Coronation Coup, we learn that Mountbatten, who had engineered the marriage between Philip and Elizabeth wanted the family name changed to Windsor-Mountbatten after her accession. Also, while the new Queen largely sided with her mother over arrangements for the Coronation, she backed Philip over perhaps the most important decision to televise the ceremony inside Westminster Abbey. In doing so she set a precedent for television to be given access to the most intimate rituals.