Preparations to prevent collision at Queen’s 1953 coronation part of new display

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Coronation artefacts including hand-drawn ceremonial diagrams designed to avoid a “collision” of key players during the anointing of the late Queen are to go on show.

A new exhibition at Lambeth Palace Library features material dating back to Henry I’s coronation in the Middle Ages.

The form and order of service for the Queen’s coronation in 1953 (Church of England/PA)

The diagram of Westminster Abbey’s coronation theatre features arrows illustrating the movement of the key players for the anointing with holy oil – with the Queen represented by a circle with the capital S and the Archbishop by a circle with the capital C.

The directions for movements during the Queen's anointing
The directions for movements during the Queen’s anointing (Church of England/PA)

The plan adds that if the participants study the details closely “there should be no need for haste, no confusion of movement and plenty of room in which to move and manoeuvre”.

The then Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher was responsible for drawing up the Queen’s Coronation Rite.

Archbishop Fisher's amendments featuring Philip to the order of service
Archbishop Fisher’s amendments featuring Philip to the order of service (Church of England/PA)

Lambeth Palace Library said on its website that the Queen and Archbishop Fisher were keen for Philip to have a role in the service.

It added: “Where possible, amendments were made to the ceremonial to reflect this, the most significant of which was that the Archbishop gave up his right to be the first to pay homage to the Queen, in favour of the duke.”

Royalty – Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – London
The Duke of Edinburgh paying homage to the Queen during her coronation in Westminster Abbey (PA)

The then-Archbishop of Canterbury Frederick Temple was suffering from failing eyesight and there were concerns for his health with his physical strength in decline.

Special prompts were printed on boards in huge font for him to read from to accommodate his sight problems, with Edward VII repeatedly muttering during the coronation: “I am very anxious about the Archbishop.”

Part of a pamphlet arguing for a change to the route of the procession for the coronation of George III (Church of England/PA)

Highlights also include the Coronation Charter of Henry I, the manuscript of the coronation service prepared for William III and Mary II, a letter from George VI thanking the then Archbishop for his part in the coronation and the Bible upon which Elizabeth II swore her Coronation oath.

The free display opens to the public at the library in London from April 12 to July 13.

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