Today, 22 June, in 1911, George V was crowned in Westminster Abbey. My great-aunt, Diana Thomas, née Hoskyns, was ten years old when he came to the throne. Her description of the Coronation procession through the streets of London is touching in its enthusiasm.
God save the King!
The King’s Progress – Hurrah!!!!!
Second Day of the Coronation.
At half past four on Friday morning I woke up to find Parsie drawing up my blinds, and suddenly I remembered that it was the day that we were going to London, so I jumped out of bed and got dressed.
Mummy, Daddy, Chan and I all had breakfast together at five o’clock and at five and twenty minutes past we were at the Station. I did feel exited [sic]! Our seats were in St James St, and as it was quite a little way from Victoria we walked there. We were in the front row so we saw most beautifully. At last we got into our seats and all the soldiers came down the street and formed up on either side to line the route.
It was really lovely looking up the road to see it one blaze of colour. There were three Hussar bands, which played such nice tunes, and the way the drummers waved their drumsticks above their heads was so pretty.
At a quarter to ten the first procession came past. There were Canadians, and Dragoons, Highlanders and Lancers and heaps of other soldiers that I do not know the names of, they all marched in such perfect order too. I think that a cousin of ours called Edmund Allenby was in the first procession, he did look beautiful and such a prancing horse. Then came all the Indians, they really did look lovely. There were two specially nice ones, thin, hard and lean but such dear faces. All the Rajah’s [sic] were in carriages also the Maharaja’s [sic]. The first procession had gone by five minutes past ten and as the royal Procession would not start frome [sic] Buckingham Palace till eleven, we had to wait an hour, I never knew an hour that seemed so long!!!
Suddenly, there was an enormous cheer, hats were waving and everybody was yelling and we looked through the heads of the crowd on the pavement and saw a dog rushing along the road, at first we really thought it was the King and Queen when the cheers began!!
There was an American lady sitting next to me and she wanted to take a photograph but a policeman’s head was just in the way of the camera and as she did not like to ask him to move, Mummy asked instead, and when the policeman turned round the American lady said “I should very much liked to have taken a photograph of your face, but the back of a helmet is not a very interesting thing to take is it?!!”
The Decorations in our street were really very pretty. Opposite to us was an enormous picture of Saint George and the Dragon with the words “St George and Merrie England, God Bless King George!!!
At each end of the street there was an archway made of evergreens fastened on to a pink kind of canopy thing in the middle, also decorated with evergreens, it was held up by wires. Where the evergreens were fastened up onto the walls of the houses, there were two Golden Angels blowing trumpets (two each side and at each end of the street).
At our end of the street there was a great oval thing made of flowers which all lighted up at night. The first part of the Royal Procession now turned the corner at the top of the street. It began with Bluejackets but they stopped half way down the road to wait till the King and Queen joined them. At last they began to move on, there were simply heaps and heaps of soldiers before the King came.
Godfather (Captain De Chair) was riding on a white horse in the Navy, he looked awfully nice but not so nice as Edmund. Suddenly we heard an enormous cheer and looking up we saw a Blue feather coming down the street and we knew it was
THE KING AND QUEEN!!!!!!!!
We did cheer! I really think that the Queen heard our yells and looked up and smiled.
King George was taking off his hat to everybody he saw. He was dressed in his Field Marshall clothes and he looked such a dear. You could hardly see the “Famous Creams” because they were covered from ears to frog with lovely purple trappings.
Lord Kitchener was riding just behind the Kings carriage, but we were all so exited [sic] about the King that we never even looked at Lord Kitchener or anyone else that came behind.
The Royal Carriage seemed to pass by so very quickly much quicker than anything else. When the procession had quite gone past, we got down from our seats and Mummy and I went to put on our hats (which we had taken off before the Procession.) Then Daddy asked a little man in the house whether he could let us have our luncheon in the house, and he said ‘yes’, and took us into a room full of pictures, pictures on the floor, on the wall, on the table, and on the chairs. (The man was a printseller.)
We had got our own luncheon with us. After lunch we went out, and Daddy said he was going to try and get into Westminster Abbey, because Chan’s Godfather Archdeacon Wilberforce said that if we went to his house at about three o’clock he would take us all round the Abbey, but as the Procession was over before any of us expected we got to his house at about half past one, of course he was not in so we could not see the Abbey, wasn’t it dreadfully sad? And what made it worse was, that the next day Mummy got a Post Card from Chan’s Godfather saying that he had waited 40 minutes to take us all round the Abbey.
Daddy told us to wait on the pavement while he went to see if the Archdeacon was in, and as we were waiting we suddenly saw the people opposite us in the stands wave their hats and begin to shout and then we thought ‘Why here’s the Procession coming along again and so it was. Kind Chan hoisted me up on his shoulder so that I could see over the heads of the people.
Then we saw the Queen’s Blue Feather coming along and we all yelled. Then Daddy came back and as the Archdeacon was not in we took a taxi and went to Cousin Alice Arkwrights house where we had tea. Then we went on to see Aunt Fanny and Uncle Leigh, they walked back with us to the Station. Uncle Leigh was so funny, he was making jokes with Daddy nearly the whole time. At last we were in the train on our way back to Brighton after having had a simply glorious time!
How I wish we were just going!
Hip Hip Hurrah THE END. HIP HIP HURRAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
George V’s reign lasted from 6 May 1910 until his death on 20 January 1936.
Sarah Vernon © 22-06-14