Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Exhibition tells Coronation story

Exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut, of the Royal Collection Trust, arranges the Coronation State Banquet display at Buckingham Palace
Exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut, of the Royal Collection Trust, arranges the Coronation State Banquet display at Buckingham Palace
Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation dress and robe on display at Buckingham Palace

The Queen's Coronation has been brought to life by a major exhibition showcasing the ceremony's fabulous dresses and artefacts - and private home movies.

The dazzling coronation dress the Queen wore for the ceremony is the centrepiece of the exhibition marking the historic event's 60th anniversary. As the world watched the monarch being crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, they also marvelled at the clothes designed for the momentous day.

The exhibition brings together the dresses, robes and gowns worn by the Queen and her immediate family for the first time since the historic event, and important artefacts that played a part in the day.

Tables from the two coronation banquets staged at Buckingham Palace have been recreated with their lavish settings of Georgian porcelain and silver-gilt, and decorations of pink and white roses and carnations. Alongside official black and white photographs, the exhibition features private movies filmed behind the scenes for the Queen that show the personal story behind the pomp and ceremony.

As the Queen in full regalia posed for official pictures with the Duke of Edinburgh, her two young children - Prince Charles, aged four, and Princess Anne, aged two - play up by covering their faces with their hands. The young monarch puts a hand on Charles to settle the youngsters down before the picture is taken in Buckingham Palace.

The Queen's private home movie, filmed in colour, features the tender moment of Philip smoothing down his son's hair as they get ready for another photograph. At one point when a group picture of the Royal Family and European royals is being set up, the Duke is shown waving his right arm repeatedly to get people on his far right to squeeze into the shot.

After the photographic session is over the footage shows the Queen, Philip and their children all holding hands together walking from view.

Exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut, from the Royal Collection Trust, said the Queen toured the exhibition on Wednesday, adding "she seemed very pleased". She said the event was staged: "To mark this incredibly important anniversary of 60 years, to focus on the wonderful robes, dresses, outfits that we're fortunate to have available to display for the public."

She added: "I think there was a sense in 1953 of trying to combine this wonderful sense of tradition with something modern and we see that through the input of certain designers, artists and composers who composed music especially for the Coronation. The private footage in the Throne Room adds a unique dimension to the display of photographs; alongside the formal black and white portraits, we see the Royal Family and European royalty behind the scenes filmed in colour, preparing for their portraits to be taken."

The Queen's Coronation 1953 exhibition at Buckingham Palace will be staged from July 27 to September 29.

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