Elizabeth II’s Coronation was the first to be televised (at her insistence) and had over 8250 guests, consisting of a mix of other members of the royal family, UK politicians, Commonwealth leaders and foreign royals. One attendee from County Down was John Edmond Warnock. He was an MP in the now-defunct Northern Ireland Parliament, representing the constituency of St Anne’s Belfast and was the Attorney General for Northern Ireland at the time. We are fortunate to have in the Down County Museum collection the invitation which was sent to Mr. Warnock and his wife from the Earl Marshal along with the uniform that he wore to the ceremony. It consists of a black wool morning coat and trousers, richly decorated with gold trimming, and a velvet bicorn hat trimmed with ostrich feathers. The images above reveal some of the details of this uniform. This embroidery is specialist work using metal bullion thread. The buttons also feature the Coat of Arms including the motto of the Order of the Garter, which is usually translated as “shame on him who thinks evil of it”.

The coronation was portrayed as the hopeful beginning of a new Elizabethan era and a way to forget the hardships and discomfort that were still plaguing Britain at the time. Simple objects like mugs, spoons and even bottle tops were made to mark the occasion and throughout Northern Ireland, celebrations were held. A souvenir programme for festivities in Newcastle, Co. Down to celebrate the coronation is held in our collection.

The coronation was seen by an estimated 277 million people around the world with many in Britain purchasing television sets in order to view the event.

The Queen would visit Northern Ireland in June and July 1953 as part of the post-Coronation celebrations. This trip incorporated visits to various places in County Down including Lisburn, Hillsborough (home to the royal residence in Northern Ireland) and Belfast.

Within the Down County Museum collection, we also have a mug that was made for the coronation of the Queen’s uncle, Edward VIII, which never occurred. Edward abdicated the throne in December 1936, changing the royal line and opening the way for the coronation of Elizabeth’s father, George VI in May 1937 and consequently for Elizabeth II in June 1953 and Charles III in May 2023.