Queen For a Day

vintage illustration art and advertising 1940s woman in Cinderellas Royal pumpkin coach

In this great land of Democracy, Americans sure love Royalty. Becoming a princess is still part of every little girls American Dream. Not that we have ever doubted for a second cutting ties with the monarchy in  1776. As long as the pomp and circumstances remained safely across the pond we have always , as my grandmother would say about our family dog, loved them from a distance.

As fascinated as we are with the current upcoming Queens Diamond Jubilee, it is rivaled only by the excitement we felt 60 years earlier, when a full five months before the actual Coronation, articles on the events  and the Royal family ran regularly in every magazine and American advertisers were not shy about tying their product into the upcoming Coronation.

Cashing in on the Coronation

photo of Queen Elizabeth for her Coronation vintage illustration of royal coach, London Bridge, Eiffel Tower

It was spring of 1953.

The Queen was to be crowned.

Coronation fever was in the air and the excitement spread across the pond where Americans were ready to cash in on Coronation fever. When the American colonies broke off allegiance to the crown centuries ago, we apparently reserved the right to enjoy certain things British such as that greatest show which the Commonwealth has: The Coronation.

The Union Jacks were out in every corner of the land as streets were lined with bunting, bells and Brits armed with, blankets binoculars, cameras and umbrellas in anticipation of the great Coronation of Elizabeth II.

From all corners of Britain’s Empire came premieres, maharajas, sultans, princes and chieftains to pay homage to a British Queen… and for one lucky American, you could be there too!

vintage illustration w1950s woman drinking coffee

Yes, you, Mrs. Average American housewife sitting at your chrome dinette kitchen table, sipping your Nescafe Instant Coffee from your unbreakable melamine coffee cup. You could join the peers and peeress to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II.

In fact pour yourself another cup, because Nescafe-that king of instant coffee who boasted “it was equal parts pure coffee and added carbohydrates“- sponsored a Coronation contest in early 1953. In 25 words or less all you had to do was describe why you prefer Nescafe Coffee to all others…. and a once in a lifetime chance to see the Coronation Festivities in London plus a bonus 3 days in glorious Paris could be all yours!

Like Cinderella you would leave your wash n’ wear house-coat behind  and dressed like a Duchess in your best lightweight tweed from Donegal suit by Hardy Ames, Pan Am would whisk Mr. and Mrs. America  across the pond to see the pageantry of England on Coronation day where m’lady would rub elbows with real life Lords and Lady’s in full Coronation regalia .

Britain Dresses Up for the Queen

photo of Queen Elizabeth 1949 lingerie ad woman in a bra and crown

Worried about your wardrobe. Did you dream you attended the Coronation in your Maidenform Bra?

Before you sit down at your new slant needle Singer Sewing machine to whip out a few new frocks, best to take a quick glance through Life Magazine’s helpful Coronation fashion guide.

photo of 1950s Countess in ball gown for Queens Coronation

Put away those lightweight cottons girls, and take your winter brocades out of mothballs as they were  quite popular in merry old summertime England.

With a happy disregard of cost, British ladies we learned were refurbishing their wardrobes to celebrate the official crowning of Elizabeth II, even if some had to sell a family portrait to do so.

A helpful take-away Tiara Tip: Tiaras may be worn to any function the queen attends if the invitation calls for white ties for men; if it specifies black tie the tiara is left home since the Queen may come bareheaded.

At the coronation a peeress (anyone with the rank of Baroness or above) should wear a coronet whose design is prescribed by court etiquette. Ordinary ladies may wear a tiara.

Along with packing your tweeds silks and plumage, a quick dash to the family bank vault to retrieve the family jewels seemed in order.

Fit For A Queen

Having problems zipping up the old ball gown you wore to the last Elks Club dinner dance?

Perhaps you’d been feasting on too much Coronation  Vanilla ice cream from Meadow Gold.

illustration of cartoon Queen eating ice cream

Not to worry.

cottage cheese salad with crown shaped cling peaches

Just dig into a tempting waist whittling dish of canned cling peaches cut to form a crown over a mound of cottage cheese ( the addition of cherry “jewels” adds just the regal touch )   cleverly called peach Coronation Salads   will add a crowning touch for spring meals.

Queen For a Day

Besides reserved seats at the Coronation, you would be feted with refreshments by real life member of the British peerage ( which undoubtedly  included Nescafe coffee instead of proper British Tea) followed by dinner at a famous club.

Then it was off to gay Paree where perhaps a quick toast with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor without whose abdication this celebration would never have taken place.

Long Live The Queen!

Photos King George VI, Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret The Duke and Duchess of Windsor

Copyright (©) 20012 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved


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