LONDON, UK — Queen Elizabeth II and her family were among the 2,000 guests gathered at Westminster Abbey in London Tuesday morning for a special ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of her coronation.
Didn't they do that last year? one might wonder. No! Last year's Diamond Jubilee marked 60 years since the moment Princess Elizabeth officially became queen on the death of her father King George VI in February 1952.
It took more than a year to organize the lavish, televised coronation, which took place on June 2, 1953. That was the event remembered Tuesday with yet another ceremony involving bearskins, trumpets, gold braid and the female members of the royal family's seemingly inexhaustible supply of ornate hats.
The star of the service wasn't her majesty, seated in the abbey's front row next to her husband, 91-year-old Prince Philip. That honor went to the St. Edward's crown, the bejeweled, 5-pound behemoth that was placed on the 27-year-old's head in 1953 and on the abbey's high altar during Tuesday's service.
The 350-year-old solid-gold crown was moved from its home in the Tower of London to Westminster Abbey under such tight security that palace officials wouldn't disclose its movements, according to The Times.
Made for the 1661 coronation of Charles II and used to crown every British monarch since, it hadn't left the Tower of London since the queen's coronation.
Guests included some attendees of the coronation six decades ago. The queen was accompanied by more than 20 members of her family, including next in line for the throne, Prince Charles, as well as Prince William and his wife Kate, who are expecting their first child in July.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recounted that the queen's coronation had been "an ordination, a setting aside of a person for service" during which she had prayed at the abbey's altar.
"We do not know what was prayed," he said. "Her majesty knelt at the beginning of a path of demanding devotion and utter self-sacrifice, a path she did not choose, yet to which she was called by God. Today we celebrate 60 years since that moment, 60 years of commitment."
Other anniversary events were held elsewhere in London following the ceremony.