Days of crowning glory

Royal memories are made of this. We asked our readers to send in their recollections of the Coronation or of one of the Queen’s jubilees.

Here is a selection of the best entries. A selection of other entries can be read online at

E Miriam Drayton, Swinefleet Common, Goole

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The much anticipated Coronation Day arrived, but oh dear, the weather – it was windy, rainy and cold. However, this could not dampen my mother’s enthusiasm as she had worked long and hard to prepare for the Reedness village celebrations. These included a fancy dress competition to be held in the village school. Creative as ever, my mother had decided I was to be dressed up as the face of Bush Television.

We set off to walk to the venue, three quarters of a mile away. How I envied my younger sister who was dressed as a Coronation tea party, while I had a cardboard box painted to look like a TV over my head and balancing on my shoulders. My eyes were just able to see out of its “screen”. The aerial was perched on top of my head and holding aloft on a stick the slogan, “Watch the Coronation on your new Bush Television”. I was not happy.

The wind blew the box and aerial around; I felt increasingly claustrophobic, but with mother’s admonishment, “stop moaning Miriam”, I kept going.

When we were about halfway, one of our neighbours, a car-owning farmer, drew up in his Jaguar and offered us a lift. “Ooh, yes please”, we echoed. Mother eased herself into the front seat; my sister made herself comfortable in the back. Alas, as I was negotiating the remaining seat I realised it could not accommodate my aerial. I had no alternative but to finish the journey on my own on foot. I made it, but was even grumpier than when I had set out.

After mother had straightened my “costume” and gave me words of encouragement, I stood proudly in line, aerial on high, as we all came under the searching eyes of the competition judges.

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. My grumpiness turned to sheer joy as I was awarded first prize: an amazing half crown! That was a day I have never forgotten.

Adele Hudson, Dishforth

They say that childhood summers are always longer and sunnier, but sometimes the remembered sunshine is not just a memory of weather, but of something infinitely more precious.

Our house was decorated with a Silver Jubilee flag, carefully suspended on the wall between the upstairs windows. The celebrations began after lunch with children’s sports on the village green, under the landmark evergreen oak tree. I was always hopeless at all sports, but mum was a PE teacher and occasionally her competitive instincts got the better of her. I remember trailing along in last place in the sack race with her running alongside shouting encouragement. I was still last, but I was hugged afterwards even so.

After the sports came the fancy dress. Dad had spent the whole of the previous day decorating my bicycle so that not so much as an inch of frame or a spoke of a wheel was showing underneath the red, white and blue crepe paper which he had wound lovingly round and round, and even woven between the spokes.

At the end of the afternoon there was an official photograph of everyone, taken on the village green from above, out of the second floor window of Pear Tree Cottage. Afterwards, inside the cardboard frame of our copy, mum put a piece of tracing paper and marked on it where all three of us were standing in the crowd.

In the evening there was a barbecue and a dance in the barn at Claphams’ farm, and I was allowed to stay up for it, as a special treat.

Dad spent the whole day filming around the village with his new Super 8 cine camera. Afterwards, he carefully edited the film and put on a musical sound track. One evening a few weeks later, he showed the film to the village, in the barn where the party was held. I still have the film, now transferred to DVD. This Diamond Jubilee year there will be another village party, in another Yorkshire village, but mum is not here to organise the sports, and there is no dad to make a film. Precious memories are not just of sunshine.

Jane Seabrook

Sitting sewing yards of bunting beside our six year-old son’s hospital bed I was determined we should be home for the Silver Jubilee. Tom’s progress had been slow but steady following his second brain operation in a month. We thought it might be the only Jubilee he would experience but the hospital would not discharge him until he managed not to vomit for at least 24 hours. This was now Saturday of THE weekend. Tom was on a hefty dose of antibiotics which made him feel wretched. Eschewing the rather substantial hospital food, I boiled him one of our little Bantam eggs in the ward kitchen and made toast. These stayed down. So did a couple of yoghurts. Sunday evening came and we had made our target!

Bank Holiday Monday dawned and my husband collected us and took us home. Up went the bunting, the red white and blue flowers in the tubs and window boxes were primped and Tom was back home with his sisters. We were a family again.

Come Monday afternoon,Tom could only watch the village races and games from his pint-sized wheelchair. But he won the best men’s tie competition – the prize being a pair of men’s Union Jack socks size 8-11! Tom will be celebrating his third Jubilee with his wife and his own young children. We are so lucky.

Jean E Hopkins, Guiseley

As a 16 year-old Ranger Guide I was selected by lot to represent Calverley District Guides in the 400-strong international guides guard of honour outside Buckingham Palace. We camped the week prior to the Coronation at East Grinstead with guides from all over the world and the night before Coronation Day we were taken to the guide headquarters on Buckingham Palace Road and slept on the floors. The following morning we had to be in position outside Buckingham Palace at about 6am. A wonderful day followed and everything was cheered including the dustcart. I well remember the Queen passing in her magnificent golden coach and the lovely Queen Saloti of Tonga riding in an open coach in spite of the rain.

My parents had just acquired their first TV set and various friends and neighbours gathered to watch and hopefully catch a glimpse of the guides. I formed a friendship with the guide representative from Knaresborough, Margaret Bell, which is still strong today and recently met up with her. What a wonderful example Queen Elizabeth has continued to set since the day of her coronation.

Hazel Mary Martell, Sutton-in-Craven

I was almost five and our family was one of only three on our street to have a television. It sat in the corner in a polished wooden cabinet taller than me and the 12-inch screen was hidden behind doors when it wasn’t being watched.

All the neighbours divided themselves among the three houses, many taking their own chairs or buffets and also their own cups or mugs. Our house was so full that mum ended up watching from the kitchen door (from where she could also keep an eye on the kettle), while there were several people sitting on the stairs that came down into the living-room.

One was a market gardener used to being in the open air all day who fell asleep within 10 minutes of arriving. I do remember the moment when the Queen was going to be anointed with oil and feeling absolutely horrified because the only oil I knew about was the thick black stuff that stuck to your feet on the beach. I really couldn’t see why the Queen wanted to be daubed up with that – especially when she was wearing such a pretty dress.

Jean Gledhill, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee of 1977 holds some magical memories for me as I was very honoured to be chosen as the Golcar Jubilee Queen. I was 17 and took part in the procession round the village on the back of a regally decorated float along with my attendants and the junior queen. The streets were full of people, family and friends waving flags and the atmosphere was lovely. As we passed the bungalows where my grandma lived, she was outside with all her neighbours and they were all waving and cheering. The procession ended at the local school where there was a Jubilee Fete. Along with our local MP Richard Wainwright, I helped judge and present the prizes for the children’s fancy dress competition.

Annie Willis, Harrogate

I drew the curtains back, looked out at the leaden skies and pouring rain and wondered if it would clear up for the party. In the run up to Coronation Day the street had become a hive of activity. A party had been arranged and in a moment of weakness I agreed to make the crepe paper floral arrangements – red, white and blue roses for the party tables. The unfinished flowers now sat in the corner of the room beside the maiden that was draped with baby clothes. No sooner had I started on my flower-making task the previous day than the first pains came. For most of the night I had been kept awake and felt relieved when morning finally came. Florence Smith the midwife, a small round jolly woman who had delivered nearly every baby in the neighbourhood eventually arrived, reluctant to have been dragged away from the festivities but desperate to deliver the baby before the end of the day. She confirmed that the labour had started but warned it might be some time yet before the birth. I paced the floor to the sound of the incessant rain and the cheering crowds from the newly purchased television in the flat upstairs. My husband was continually despatched to the kitchen to put the kettle on and the talk was all about the new Queen and the conquest of Everest; on the wireless. I remember music from Charlie Chaplin’s new film Limelight drifting in and out of the room. The midwife spent much of the afternoon leaning over the settee to peer out at the rain-sodden street, showing a wide expanse of dark blue bloomer framed by the hiatus between elasticated knicker leg and stocking top. Despite feeling uncomfortable and in pain I couldn’t help but smile at the comical sight. And then, at 5.30pm, just as the royal celebrations were nearing an end our baby was born. Later, my husband, went off to the telephone box to tell friends and relatives, our older daughter returned excited to meet her new sister and Florence went home, delighted to have delivered her first Coronation Baby. What of the paper flowers? No one came to collect them because the street party had been a washout but for us the coronation celebrations were only just beginning.