Stedfast Magazine No.1 Pages 24-25
When the ‘thrilling announcement was made that I had been chosen as Boys’ Brigade representative at the Coronation, I was quoted in a newspaper as having said, “Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.” That was -true, but yet it was an understatement for I was deeply conscious of a high honour conferred and a tremendous responsibility as one representative of over 100,000 boys.
My stay in London, which extended over several days, was a happy one as well as memorable and for that I am indebted to my host, the Rev. A. Guthrie Gamble, Mr. Stanley Smith, Brigade -Secretary, and Mr. Douglas Smith, his brother. The warm fellowship I enjoyed with all whom I met gave me a very practical demonstration of the great strength and benefit of the -Boys’ Brigade. In the presence of Mr. Stanley Smith at Headquarters, and again in his home, there was evidence of that love for boys which his father had and which resulted in the founding of our movement.
-It was with surprisingly little effort and unusual willingness that I arose at 4.15 a.m. on Coronation Day; two hours later I was in my seat in the South Triforium. The seat was above the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. My first impression of the Abbey was the brilliant lighting effect produced by specially powerful lights along the roof. And then the sound of vacuum cleaners greeted my ears for the handsome blue carpet which stretched the length of the Abbey was having final attention. I could see in the distance the “Theatre,” to give it its technical name, and on this raised platform took place a great part of the Coronation Ceremony. And then behind all that was the High Altar on which rested the gleaming gold plate. Soon began the arrival of the peers and peeresses who walked below me on to the transcepts with their long robes behind them and carrying -their coronets. Below, on the other side of the Nave, the Civic Representatives in their colourful regalias occupied seats. Indeed as I looked around I could see people of all colours dressed in uniforms or national costumes. Here truly was a united nations gathering. Each person in the Abbey was presented with -two books—one containing The Form and Order of the Service, and the other The Ceremonies to be observed, along with the names of all those in the processions. It was at this point I found the latter book most helpful for it enabled me to follow the Service as it moved with all solemnity to its climax. Punctually at 8.50 the first pro cession of members of the Royal Family arrived and from then the whole atmosphere became charged with a mounting feeling of expectancy and excitement. It was equally impressive to see the processions of the Royal and other Representatives of Foreign States, followed by the Rulers of States under Her Majesty’s Protection. I saw Her ‘Majesty Queen Salote of Tonga, an outstanding figure even in -that great assembly, The magnificence of the occasion was heightened by the arrival of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother with Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret. And now the long anticipated and awaited moment had come, for the Procession of Her Majesty The Queen had already entered the Abbey. The Choir sang, “I was glad when they said unto me We will go into the House of the Lord,” and the Queen’s Scholars of Westminster School acclaimed Her Majesty with—Vivat Regina Elizabetha! Vivat! Vivat! Vivat! Our Queen had come to seal in the sight of God a solemn covenant between herself and her people. I saw her come advancing with youthful grace and regal dignity through the bowing congregation. And indeed throughout the entire Service her bearing was magnificent in its dignity and she was wholly regal, and yet we saw her divested of her rich robes and ornaments and humbling herself before God.
The Service itself naturally falls into five parts.
- The Introduction (the Recognition and then the Oath).
- The Anointing.
- The Investment with the Royal Robes and Insignia and Crowning.
- The Enthroning and the Homage.
- The Celebration of the Holy Communion.
I think it is well to remember the great spiritual significance of the Coronation Service. To me it was a moving spiritual experience. The actual crowning did not seem to me to be in our everyday world at all. It was all a sight I shall never forget for the whole Service was magnificent pageantry and glorious colour. I am sure the silent prayer of those present in the Abbey was God save our Queen.
I have many treasured memories of an unforgettable experience. But the memory which will remain with me as long as I live was that I saw our Queen Elizabeth, a gracious and sincere lady, dedicating herself before her subjects to the service of God.
I shall always be indebted to The Boys’ Brigade for the wonderful experience of representing them at theCoronation.