As part of the Royal Collection Season across BBC television and radio, BBC One today announced The Coronation, an hour-long film revealing to new generations the compelling story of the Crown Jewels and the ancient ceremony for which they are used.
As part of the film, to mark the 65th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen’s Coronation, The Queen shares memories of the ceremony, as well as that of her father, King George VI, in 1937. The Crown Jewels, which form part of the Royal Collection, consist of 140 items and contain 23,000 precious stones. These sacred objects form the most complete collection of royal regalia in the world.
The Royal Collection Season, a major partnership between the BBC and Royal Collection Trust, reveals the fascinating history of the Royal Collection – one of the largest and most important art collections in the world – bringing both the masterpieces and some of the lesser-known works of art, and the stories behind them, to audiences across Britain.
Exploring the role and symbolic meaning of the Crown Jewels in the centuries-old coronation ceremony, The Coronation shows these objects of astonishing beauty in new high-resolution footage. The film tells the extraordinary story of St Edward’s Crown, which was destroyed after the English Civil War and remade for the Coronation of Charles II in 1661. It has only been worn by Her Majesty once, at the moment she was crowned.
On 2 June 1953, on one of the coldest June days of the century and after 16 months of planning, The Queen set out from Buckingham Palace to be crowned at Westminster Abbey, watched by millions of people throughout the world. A ceremony dating back more than a thousand years was to mark the dawn of a new Elizabethan age.
Viewing both private and official film footage, The Queen recalls the day when the weight of both St Edward’s Crown and the hopes and expectations of a country recovering from war were on her shoulders, as the nation looked to their 27-year-old Queen to lead them into a new era.
In the film, The Queen says: “I’ve seen one Coronation, and been the recipient in the other, which is pretty remarkable.”
For audiences unfamiliar with the story of the Crown Jewels and the regalia, the film explains their contemporary relevance to the UK as a nation and to the enduring purpose and the work of monarchy. They are symbols of the relationship between the Sovereign and the people, and the duties and responsibilities of leadership.
The film also features eyewitness accounts of those who participated in the 1953 Coronation, including a maid of honour who nearly fainted in the Abbey, and a 12-year-old choirboy who was left to sing solo when his overwhelmed colleagues lost their voices.
Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content said: “It is truly an honour to have Her Majesty The Queen revealing her intimate knowledge of the Crown Jewels – and fond childhood memories from when her father was crowned King George VI – in this very special BBC One film. The Queen’s words will bring to life the importance of the coronation ceremony for modern audiences to enjoy.”
Coronation expert and key contributor Alastair Bruce says: “The Crown Jewels include ‘The Regalia’, which are used at a coronation, when the monarch is invested with the best known, if least understood, symbols of this kingdom. Post boxes, Police helmets, Income Tax Returns and almost every visual expression of the United Kingdom displays a Crown and Orb. The meaning of each of the key objects has evolved from emblems of authority that date way back before the Saxons arrived. Yet there is an enduring relevance to modern leadership wrapped into each symbol that express values of humility, duty and service, while representing total power. Discovering their meaning helps to define what the Sovereign is to the Crown and how that Crown is the property of us all, in the constitutional function of Monarchy.”
The Coronation is made by Bafta and Emmy Award winning Atlantic Productions. It is a co-production with Smithsonian Channel and ABC Television and distributed by FremantleMedia International. In a global simulcast, it will be broadcast across the United States and Australia by its broadcast partners.
Angela Neillis, Director of Non-Scripted, UK, EMEA and Asia Pacific, FremantleMedia International, said: “Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation is a landmark television event and we are thrilled to be working with Atlantic Productions to bring their unique documentary film to international buyers. Her Majesty The Queen is a much loved and respected global figure and the Royal Family continues to fascinate audiences across the world.”
Anthony Geffen, CEO of Atlantic Productions says: “The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was an international and momentous event, which took 16 months of preparation and was watched by millions across the globe for the first time in history. Our project marks another first – Her Majesty The Queen’s own recollections of the time. We are honoured to be able to create this lasting historical document and hugely appreciative of the collaboration with The Royal Household and our broadcast partners.”
David Royle, Executive Vice President of Programming and Production for Smithsonian Channel said: “Americans are fascinated by the Royal Family and have great admiration for The Queen. When the Coronation was broadcast in the U.S. in 1953, it was watched by an immense audience. At Smithsonian Channel, we take great pride in bringing definitive accounts of major events to our viewers, and this remarkably intimate portrait of the Coronation is sure to bring new levels of interest in America.”
Michael Carrington, Acting Head of Television, ABC said: “The ABC are delighted to be the broadcast partner for this very special, historical event. The crowning of Queen Elizabeth II was a defining moment in the history of television, and the modern world, and we are excited to bring the rituals and pageantry of her Coronation to life for our ABC audiences in 2018.”
The Coronation (1 x 60 min) was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director of Content and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Simon Young. The Executive Producer for Atlantic Productions is Anthony Geffen and Producer/Director is Harvey Lilley. The programme consultant is Alastair Bruce.