Famous London events: The Queen’s wedding
On the day, the rain had stopped and the 21 year-old Princess Elizabeth appeared in an Irish state coach, smiling as she passed the cheering, flag-waving crowds lining the route to Westminster Abbey. Millions listened to the commentary on the radio as the Princess, taking the arm of her father King George VI, made her way down the aisle, followed by two pages and eight bridesmaids, admired by the 2,000 strong congregation including six kings and seven queens.
The bells rang out as a symbol of hope as the future queen and her husband emerged from the Abbey to ecstatic cheers and were taken to Buckingham Palace for the wedding breakfast.
In true fairytale fashion the happy couple soon reappeared, waving to the crowds from the balcony before making history by being filmed posing for formal portraits. At dusk the couple left Buckingham Palace in an open carriage, Princess Elizabeth wearing a pale blue dress and jacket ensemble also designed by Hartnell. The couple journeyed to Waterloo station accompanied by the Princess’s favourite corgi Susan to commence their honeymoon at Broadlands in Hampshire.
The BBC televised the event to huge viewing figures. Not surprisingly, television sales rocketed in the month before the wedding and for those that did not have a television, the footage was shown in newsreels, seen by tens of thousands of people in cinemas around Britain.
10,000 telegrams were sent to Buckingham Palace congratulating the couple, showing just how much the nation cared. After the wedding, Princess Elizabeth’s dress was displayed at St James’s Palace before going on tour to all the major British cities. 200,000 people, wishing to see the couple’s 2,500 gifts, queued for hours to view the priceless jewels, glassware, silver dishes, candlesticks, 148 pairs of stockings, 76 handkerchiefs and tons of tinned food including 500 tins of pineapple sent from the Commonwealth! Princess Elizabeth ordered that the food was distributed to widows and pensioners.
Like in the union between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Duke of Edinburgh has supported his wife through the trials of public life, in the Duke’s case for over 60 years.
He resigned from the Navy in 1952 when George VI died in his sleep and Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II.