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New Elizabethan Age draws to a close

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Coronation Day, London, a photograph taken by my Father from the Mall terraces, 2nd June 1953

I wasn't yet born when this photo was taken. Neither were my sister or brother - my oldest sibling, who was born in July 1954. Yet we are all three of us defined by the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II and have lived the best part of our lives through what in the fifties was heralded as The New Elizabethan Age.

My father took the photo with his Voigtländer camera from a raised wooden platform erected along the Mall. He is looking northwards towards the Duke of York Steps. The family story is that he and my mother volunteered to be ushers on the day of the Coronation because this entitled them to a place on the terraces. Anyway, it's a pretty good photo. Better than the one I took off the T.V. of King Charles III on his Coronation Day on 6th May 2023.

I can barely remember the fifties, and yet I feel myself to be, paradoxically, a child of the fifties. I dress anachronistically, in clothes people tell me are straight out of the nineteen-fifties. When I watch a film that is set in the fifties, I am usually wearing braces from the same outfitters as the actors in the movie. In art history, I research and write on the post-war period, especially the fifties. Why all that is so I cannot say.

Neither my mother or father lived to see the accession of H.R.H. King Charles III so it is left to me to reflect on the closing of that circle ... Queen to King, mother to son, old age to new age, childhood to old age.

Here they are, my parents, in a photo taken in 1953, flanked on left and right by my Aunt Ena and Uncle Ted.

Coronation Day, 2 June 1953

Coronation Day, 6 May 2023

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