Queen Elizabeth II has been the queen of Britain and the Commonwealth for almost 70 years, making her the longest reigning British monarch in history. Her coronation in 1953, a year following the death of her father King George VI, was the first widely publicised and televised British Royal event of its time. More than 100,000 people tuned in to view the event, and coronation celebrations were held not just in Britain but in Commonwealth countries worldwide.
To celebrate the Coronation, many toymakers (especially in the United Kingdom) went on to produce toys and collectibles to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event. Many of these vintage collectibles and toys can only be found on online auction sites today, and are widely sought after by collectors and royal enthusiasts worldwide.
Made in Singapore in 1953, this original programme from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II is both a historical artefact and a valuable collectible. The cover drawing depicts boats on the Singapore River with notable Civic District buildings in the background including the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, the old Supreme Court, City Hall, and St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Above the drawing is the coats of arms of the Colony of Singapore, and the City of Singapore.
The programme was printed in Singapore - a Crown Colony of the United Kingdom at the time - to mark the Coronation celebrations. The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey in London, followed by the death of her father King George VI the previous year. It was the first British coronation to be televised, and was watched by over 10 million viewers worldwide.
Not only is this programme a peek into the festivities of the Coronation itself, but it is also a reminder of Singapore’s colonial past.
Part of the week-long celebration including islandwide activities, the opening of Queen Elizabeth Walk and the Esplanade Gardens, nightly processions, and even firework displays. The celebrations lasted for one week, and religious venues such as churches, mosques, and temples all held special religious services as well. On the final day of Coronation Week, a parade was held at the Padang to celebrate the Trooping of Colour (also known as the sovereign’s official birthday).