A 1937 Letter Unearths What Queen Elizabeth Really Thought About Her Father's Coronation

With the coronation of King Charles III set for May 6, memories of previous coronation events are surfacing. At the age of four, Charles himself made British history by being the first offspring to attend his mother's coronation, that of Queen Elizabeth II. Being so young, there is no official record of his thoughts on the occasion, but the Royal Archives are filled with documents, both personal and official, that show both the joy and solemnity of the occasion throughout the years. 

When King George VI and Queen Elizabeth had their coronation in 1937, Queen Elizabeth II was 11 years old. The young princess viewed the event from the Royal Gallery, seated next to her grandmother, Queen Mary, and her younger sister, Princess Margaret. After the ceremony, she penciled a hand-written letter to "Mummy and Papa, In Memory of Their Coronation, from Lilibet By Herself," which has been preserved in the Royal Archives.

In neat penmanship, she shared with her parents the events of her day, what she witnessed from her seat, and how she felt about everything she saw. "Beautiful" was the word most often used, but the then princess also had a few other thoughts to add.

It was very beautiful ... and very long

In her detailed letter to her parents long before she became queen herself, Elizabeth described how her day began. She admitted she did not eat much breakfast, "as we were too excited," and after getting dressed, she went for a visit to her parents. "We went along to Mummy's bedroom and we found her putting on her dress," she wrote. "Papa was dressed in a white shirt, breeches and stockings, and over this he wore a crimson satin coat."

Of the service itself, she shared, "I thought it all very, very wonderful," with the words very underlined for emphasis. "The arches and beams at the top were covered with a sort of haze of wonder as Papa was crowned, at least I thought so." 

While she had a lot of nice things to say about the coronation, she did get honest about the length of the ceremony, noting, "At the end the service got rather boring as it was all prayers." She admitted she and "Grannie," aka Queen Mary, paged through the program to see "how many more pages to the end," and upon finding the word "Finis," "we both smiled at each other and turned back to the service."