The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II 65 years on

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth II meets the public on her 90th Birthday Walkabout on April 21, 2016, in Windsor, England.PlayChris Jackson/Getty Images
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On June 2, 1953, the 27-year-old Queen Elizabeth II and her husband The Duke of Edinburgh were driven in the Gold State Coach from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, the setting for every Coronation in England since 1066.

The queen ascended to the throne immediately following the death of her father King George VI in February the previous year.

A traditional period of mourning accounted for the year between the king’s death and the crowning of the queen. Breaking with tradition, when asked what regnal name she would take, Elizabeth famously said: “My own of course, what else?”

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth II, wearing the Imperial Crown, smiles and waves to a crowd from balcony of Buckingham Palace on June 3, 1953, in London, on returning from Westminster Abbey following her coronation. AP
Queen Elizabeth II, wearing the Imperial Crown, smiles and waves to a crowd from balcony of Buckingham Palace on June 3, 1953, in London, on returning from Westminster Abbey following her coronation.

Sixty-five years since that day Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning king or queen in the more than a thousand-year history of the British monarchy, and currently the world’s oldest head of state.

When she became queen, the U.K. was struggling to rebuild itself after the Second World War. The Treasury was empty, food was still being rationed and the British Empire was beginning to crumble, starting with the British withdrawal from India in 1947.

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth II speaks to guests as she hosts a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 31, 2018, in London. Frank Augstein - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II speaks to guests as she hosts a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 31, 2018, in London.
PHOTO: Crowds line Pall Mall as Queen Elizabeth II and her pageant pass on the way to her coronation ceremony, June 02, 1953. Central Press/Getty Images
Crowds line Pall Mall as Queen Elizabeth II and her pageant pass on the way to her coronation ceremony, June 02, 1953.

The coronation was styled as an event marking a new period of renewal after long years of hardship following the war. In truth the Queen’s early years as monarch were tumultuous.

The Suez Crisis, where Britain (along with France) was forced into a humiliating retreat after a failed invasion, was a stark demonstration of its failing imperial power and influence.

Colonies continued to break from the British Empire as it struggled to maintain its grip.

         
              
                     
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As the head of state, the queen rules by constitutional monarchy, but the U.K. is governed by a parliamentary democracy.

The official name of Britain’s leadership is Her Majesty’s Government, and as queen, her duties include weekly briefings with the prime minister which serve as advisory, informal conversations.

Though the monarchy is largely a symbolic figurehead in a parliamentary democracy, the queen enjoys a popularity among her citizens that most politicians could only dream of.

A 2016 poll as the queen approached her 90th year showed that Britons were increasingly opposed to the queen retiring, the number rising “substantially” since the turn of the century.

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