LONDON, England – Today the cities around the UK celebrated the 60th anniversary of the British monarch’s coronation. Queen Elizabeth II marked the occasion in private after spending a day at the races.
AFP reports that the 87-year-old monarch and her husband Prince Philip spent Saturday at the Epsom Derby, echoing the events of a year ago that kicked off her four-day diamond jubilee party.
The Queen took the throne on February 6, 1952 upon the death of her father king George VI, but to allow for a period of national mourning, she was only crowned 16 months later in London’s Westminster Abbey.
The Queen will be joined by the royal family and 2000 guests at the abbey on Tuesday for a service celebrating the anniversary.
At the Epsom Downs course, the monarch, an avid racing fan and a noted racehorse breeder, seemed in good spirits, while Prince Philip followed the action through binoculars.
The Queen and her 91-year-old husband were marking the actual anniversary day in a low-key fashion at Windsor Castle, west of London, where they regularly spend the weekend.
“They are spending the day privately,” a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said.
“The main focus is obviously on Tuesday’s service.”
According to AFP, the Queen and Prince Philip were to return to duty on Monday, attending a reception for the Royal National Institute for the Blind at St James’s Palace in London.
The coronation anniversary is being staged with far less fanfare than the diamond jubilee celebrations last year.
This year’s events include exhibitions of memorabilia, gun salutes and a series of garden parties.
Royal thoughts are now turning to the birth expected in July of Prince William and Catherine’s baby, who will be third in line to the throne.
Tuesday’s service will mark the first time the young couple have attended an event at Westminster Abbey since their wedding there in April 2011.
The Queen’s coronation was the first to be televised and more than 20 million people in Britain watched it live while another 11 million listened on the radio. The event sparked the popular growth of television in Britain.
On Sunday the BBC broadcast for the first time a digitally remastered version of its original black-and-white footage from 1953.
It was broadcast 60 years on to the very minute: from 10.15am to 17.20 pm local time.
Recounting the events of June 2, 1953, Lady Moyra Campbell, one of Queen Elizabeth’s maids of honour at the coronation, told Sky News television it was an “unforgettable day”.
“There was that amazing sincerity with which she made those incredibly solemn promises and I, for one, thank God that I have been blessed with a life long enough to see those promises fulfilled in a way that I would challenge anyone else to do,” she said.
The Mail on Sunday newspaper said in its editorial: “We couldn’t have known it at the time but 60 years ago today we crowned one of the greatest monarchs in our history.
“Despite six decades of service, despite being the most recognisable person alive today, she remains the same quiet, humble servant she was that day.”
Prayers for the monarch were said across the country, with the Church of England having written a new prayer to mark the occasion, giving thanks for her “long and glorious reign”.