Queen Elizabeth II is the world's oldest reigning monarch. She inherited the throne as a 25-year old on February 6, 1952, the day her father King George VI died. But it was only after 16 months that she was crowned the Queen of England.
King George VI died at a time when World War II had ended six years back and the British Empire was on the verge of dissolution. The Commonwealth of Nations was coming into existence.
It was amid these circumstances that Princess Elizabeth II was sworn in as the Queen of the United Kingdom on June 2, 1953. It was a date selected by meteorologists who predicted that it would rain that day, which was considered auspicious. And it did rain that day.
But what was the most fascinating thing about the Queen's grand coronation ceremony anyway?
It was her GOWN!... no surprises for women...let me finish. It was her gown's HIDDEN SECRET!
*Read on to find out*
The Queen's coronation gown was an artiste's masterpiece (straight outta fairy tales), much like her bridal gown which was oh-so-exquisite. But we'll mention about her bridal gown some other day.
It took designer Norman Hartnell close to eight months in creating the coronation gown, as he incorporated various elements that represented the Commonwealth countries. They were embroidered on her gown. The gown had:
An English Tudor Rose
A Scottish Thistle
A Welsh Leek
An Irish Shamrock
A Canadian Maple Leaf
An Australian Wattle
A New Zealand Silver Fern
A South African Protea
An Indian and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Lotus Flower
Pakistan's Wheat, Cotton and Jute
The 'Lily White' Maids of Honour chosen to accompany the Queen on her Coronation Day were Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill, Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Lady Anne Coke, Lady Mary Baillie-Hamilton, Lady Moyra Hamilton and Lady Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby.
The special secret that Hartnell had left on the gown, about which even the Queen had been unaware, was carefully sewn onto the left side of her coronation dress by a member of British royal court.
This secret was, "An extra four-leaved shamrock that Hartnell had carefully positioned so that the Queen's hand would rest on the good luck charm throughout the ceremony."
PS - This member of royal court was one of the millionaire businessmen who volunteered to be a part of the ceremony since there weren't many coachmen available at the time. Many other elites were hired to escort the guests to the ceremony as well, which was a matter of privilege for them.
The coronation gown was created from white satin made of fibres procured from the silk farm located at Lullingstone Castle.
The short sleeves and a heart-shaped neckline was tapered down to her tiny waist with the full skirt flaring out from below and ending in a slight train at the back.
The embroidery on the base of the dress was the show-stopper of the show. The seed pearls and crystals created a lattice-work background for floral emblems in pastel silks and gold/silver threads.
After eight months of work, the gown was delivered to the Queen three days ahead of her coronation. Elizabeth II declared it to be "glorious".
Queen Elizabeth actually wore her glorious gown six more times after the Coronation Day. It was during the receptions at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. She also wore it at Parliament openings during her coronation tour in New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon in 1954 and Canada in 1957.