The British Coronation Where Everything Went Wrong

Queen Victoria was one of the greatest British monarchs of all time. She ruled for 63 long years and became the longest reigning British monarch; at least before Elizabeth II came along. But at the beginning of her reign, nobody believed it would come to any good. Because her coronation was a disaster.

The date was set for Thursday, June 28, 1838. People were excited to welcome their new Queen. Men and women dressed in their best clothes waved their handkerchiefs and saluted the Queen. There were so many people there, she was actually worried they would hurt each other in the rush. It took her more than an hour to get to the abbey. Despite all the fuss, everything was going rather smoothly; until the real ceremony started...

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When things don't go as planned 1:01
The most painful thing for Victoria 3:27
Why the ceremony was basically invalid 4:18
The high point of this ludicrous day 5:34
Why it was “the last of the botched coronations” 7:39

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- The date was set for Thursday, June 28, 1838. People were excited to welcome their new Queen. Since the ceremony was held in London, hundreds of visitors started arriving there days before the crowning.
- On the big day, about 400,000 people from all over the country came to the capital. They flooded parks and streets, mostly along the route of the public procession.
- You’d probably think “what could be more important for the empire than the coronation of a new monarch?” But the surprising truth is that there was almost no rehearsal for it.
- Witnesses recalled that only a few men seemed to know what they were doing, while others carried out their tasks with “a continual difficulty and embarrassment”.
- Apparently, the goldsmiths mistakenly made the ring for her little finger, but the Archbishop didn’t know that. After all, it was an ancient custom, so the archbishop of Canterbury forced the ring on her fourth finger anyway, causing her a lot of pain.
- The Bishop of Bath and Wells who was making sure that all went according to plan, accidentally missed two pages of the Order of Service. And that, of course, was the section where the monarch’s title was proclaimed.
- The high point of this ludicrous day came when the peers were paying their homage to the new Queen. One of them was aptly named Lord John Rolle. It was an unfortunate irony that when the lord tried to climb the stairs to the throne, he simply fell and rolled down the steps.
- The ceremony lasted five excruciating hours, and eventually, there was hardly anyone in Westminster who wasn’t relieved it was over.
- Surprisingly, Victoria loved the service with all its faults and flaws and called that day “the proudest of her life”.

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