CORONATION OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II
The stamps on this First Day Cover were issued by Great Britain on May 31, 1978, for the 25th Anniversary of the Coronation of Elizabeth II. Designed by Jeffery Matthews, the stamps feature silhouttes of objects used in the cermonies held on June 2, 1953, at Westminster Abbey. The queen’s portrait is repeated in the corner of each.
The gold coach pictured on the 9-pence stamp was built in 1762. It was in this coach that George IV rode from his palace to the Abbey for his coronation in 1820, and it has been used for the same purpose for every coronation since. Above the wheel can be seen one of the four carved Triton figures from which the coach is slung, and two of the carved palm trees that form the elaborate framework. The coach is drawn by eight horses.
The 10 1/2 -pence stamp shows the St. Edwards crown, made for the coronation of Charles II in 1661. It is of gold, set with diamonds, pearls, and other gems, and encloses the purple velvet “Cap of Maintenance”. Because of the crown’s 4 1/2-lb. weight, Queen Elizabeth wore it only for only a few minutes during the ceremony, then exchanged it for the Imprerial Crown, made for Queen Victoria in 1838.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland also includes Wales and Scotland. In 43 A.D., England was added to the Roman Empire of which it remained an outpost until early in the fifth century.
For the next 500 years, England was controlled first by German, then by Scandinavian invaders until the Norman Conquest in 1066 by France. By the mid-15th century, after protracted warfare, French rule was overthrown and Great Britain began to exert its influence worldwide.
Under Queen Elizabeth I and alter monarchs, Britain’s powers expanded until by 1900 the empire included Australia and large parts of Northern America, Africa, and Asia. Since then the empire has diminished, but the sovereign of England is still the symbolic heat of the British Commonwealth, which comprises 36 self-govenring nations plus numerous colonies and protectorates.