My memories of King George VI are very dim as I was around six years of age at the time of his death. A year later at the age of seven I have great memories of the Coronation of Elizabeth II. As a school child I can recall being taken along with other children of the same age in a school group to a local cinema to view the Coronation on the big screen. Whilst the UK had television since 1936, believe it or not, very few households had TV in 1953. It was mostly the wealthy that had TV at that time. That was why the school in my area had arranged for its student to go to the Cinema to view the start of the new Elizabethan age in the UK.
It was a time for celebration and joy as less than ten years earlier the country was at war with air attacks on cities, towns and villages alike subjected to bombing raids from Germany. The rationing of food and fuel had continued after the cessation of the war in 1945 for a few more years. The death of George VI in 1952 and the official start of the new Elizabethan reign gave hope that the past misery was now over. The British public looked forward to what was hoped to be a much more prosperous future. The pomp and ceremony of the Coronation made Britons feel proud just as the most recent funeral of her majesty Elizabeth II also did Britain proud with its organizational skills being shown on the world stage.
Residents in the street in which I lived at the time also gathered together and organised the biggest street party I had ever attended. Tables were laid along the centre of the road which was closed off to traffic. Bunting and flags were strung across the street from lamp post to lamp post which helped create a true party atmosphere. As a child I eagerly sought out the delicacies of my choice, cake, trifles, jellies, biscuits ice cream and the like. School children were also presented with glass beakers (drinking glasses) emblazoned with pictures of the new Queen and her new insignia bearing the motif of E11R.
But just as the end of WWII had heralded the start of the breakup of the colonial empires of Europe with the granting of independence of many colonies. Britain broke up its Indian empire by granting India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon independence in 1947 and also its hold on Palestine by the creation of the independent states of Israel and Jordan. The British colony of Newfoundland joined the Canadian Federation in 1949. The new Queen was to see many former colonies became independent in their own right. The colony of the Gold Coast became Ghana, Tanganyika and Zanzibar became Tanzania, Nyasaland became Malawi, Northern Rhodesia was to become Zambia, Southern Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, and many other colonies also gained independence whilst Hong Kong reverted to part of China and in the United Kingdom, Wales and Scotland became self-governing countries within the UK. It was pleasing to me personally to see our new King Charles III also give a speech to the Welsh parliament in the Welsh language and to announce to the world that Prince William would become Prince of Wales using the Welsh term for Prince of Wales, “Tywysog Cymru”. Such actions point to me that King Charles would seek to be a continuing unifying force for the United Kingdom just as his late mother Elizabeth II was. His visit earlier this year as Prince Charles to the West Indies also indicated to me that he is also mindful of republican sentiments throughout the Commonwealth recognising the wishes of many to remain in the Commonwealth but without their governments and Governor-Generals being subservient to the monarchy in the passing of legislation.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]