Following the death of the iconic Queen Elizabeth II last September, King Charles III will be officially crowned King of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth this weekend.
Charles was born on November 14, 1948, which makes him the longest-serving heir-apparent. 70 years ago, he was present at Westminster Abbey, watching as his mother Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England. In fact, according to the Royal Family’s official social media accounts, Prince Charles was the first child to witness a mother’s coronation as Sovereign.
What was it like for a 4-year-old boy to watch his mother become queen? The Research team at MyHeritage.com dove into the collection of historical newspapers in the MyHeritage database, and found dozens of newspapers from the 1953 coronation ceremony that bring back not only the moments of how Charles reacted when his mother was crowned, but also the way he delighted the adults watching the ceremony when they saw him looking at them from the palace window using a telescope, or when the band played “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” for him.
As was fitting for such a prestigious event, the reporters covered every aspect of the ceremony, including Charles’ hair and attire. “Prince Charles, a little boy of four dressed in his Sunday best, shared with his mother her greatest moment today,” said the Spokane Chronicle on June 2, 1953.
“The boy who some day will be king watched, his eyes [wide] with wonder at the pageantry before him, as the archbishop of Canterbury placed the heavily jeweled St. Edward’s crown on his mother’s head,” continued the report, and then described Charles’s hair as “blond as his father’s… brushed smooth and parted as straight as a railroad track. He was just tall enough to see over the balustrade of the royal box to the coronation theater below.”
Before the actual ceremony, it appeared that Charles had made a request to kneel before the new Queen. According to the newspaper of that day, “he was told how his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, will kneel before his wife and swear loyalty to her as her subject. Charles let it be known at once that he, too, wants to kneel before his mother instead of being a mere spectator.”
Speaking of the royal family, it is also interesting to see how in 1953, the newspapers delved deep into the family’s history, illustrating in detail the descent of the British Crown. Charles’ name can be seen in the bottom of the diagram that shows how his line goes back to his ancestor William the Conqueror, who reigned from 1066 to 1087.
As Charles was then only 4 years old, he behaved… well… like a 4-year-old boy at the center of the biggest party ever.
One newspaper described the moment when Charles viewed the crowd through a telescope: “Prince Charles drew a mighty laugh and cheer from the crowd outside the palace when he suddenly appeared at a window, produced a small telescope and bore it upon the scene. A hand appeared and took the telescope from him and the laughter redoubled.”
Another newspaper reported that “Prince Charles was a problem all day long.” The article describes how behind a curtain on a palace window, “a hasty little wave of a little arm, a bright clean face pressed for a brief moment against a window pane,” and that half an hour afterwards, “the band struck up ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic.’”
But eventually, of course, the people “cheered and waved, and the Prince waved back from behind a thin curtain… and the London papers this evening all had suitably hazy photos taken through telescopic lenses to record the scene.”
That salute was even caught on camera, as it was published on the Northern Star (Lismore, NSW) on June 2 1953: “Prince Charles and his sister, Princess Anne, stand at the salute as with Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, they watch from a window of Buckingham Palace as Queen Elizabeth II presents new colors to the Grenadier Guards.”
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Source: My Heritage