One Of The Key Figures In Queen Elizabeth's Coronation Has Passed Away

On June 2, 1953, 27 million people watched the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on TV; hers was the first coronation of a monarch to ever be televised. The queen had previously made notes about her father's coronation, with the then 11-year-old writing (via Vanity Fair), "At the end the service got rather boring as it was all prayers."

Clearly, the young princess had certain ideas about how coronations should go. While it's not certain if she managed to cut down on any potential boredom for her own coronation, she did have a direct hand in designing her coronation gown. British fashion designer Norman Hartnell — who also designed the queen's lavish wedding dress — worked with the queen to design the white duchesse satin dress. Caroline de Guitaut, the curator of a Windsor Castle exhibit that displayed the dress as part of the queen's Platinum Jubilee, told People that it was Elizabeth's idea to add pearls and beads to the dress. "And also that he should incorporate the emblems of the nations of which she would become Queen, the independent states such as Australia and New Zealand and so on," she added.

On the day of her coronation, Elizabeth was attended by maids of honor who were tasked with helping hold her long train as she moved through Westminster Abbey, per People. The youngest, Lady Mary Baillie-Hamilton — later Lady Mary Russell — was 19 years old for the coronation, and she passed away at the age of 88 the day before the queen's state funeral — another event that Elizabeth had a hand in planning

Queen Elizabeth's maids of honor had smelling salts hidden in their gloves

Lady Mary Russell's obituary said she "died peacefully at home with her family around her on Sunday 18 September" (via GB News). She was the "beloved wife of David," and she had five children and 12 grandchildren.

For Queen Elizabeth's coronation, Lady Mary, wearing a silver gown, tiara, and long silk gloves, walked along with the five other maids of honor through Westminster Abbey carrying the queen's robe. She described it as "overwhelming and moving – especially during the anointing," per Tatler, adding, "It was an incredible moment, but all I could think about was how heavy the embroidery felt." 

It's a good thing they were there; according to Daily Mail, the queen couldn't move without the train being held. For the long service, the young women had smelling salts tucked away in case they needed to stave off fainting spells. Lady Mary recalled that afterwards, Elizabeth gifted each of her attendants with "the most simple, beautiful brooch of her initials in her handwriting in diamonds."

Being chosen to be such a big part of the coronation meant, as another maid of honor Lady Anne Glennconner told the BBC, they were like "the Spice Girls of their time," per People. The queen kept in touch with her maids of honor throughout her life.