The Coronation of Queen Victoria
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About 400,000 people had poured into the capital to see the Coronation of Elizabeth I, and the streets were so crowded that it was thought advisable to remove the iron palings round the parks to let the crowds camp and sleep there. Seats were selling at from ten shillings to five guineas, and many persons let the front of their houses for sums ranging from £50 to £300.
At Charing Cross it was reckoned that over 200,000 watchers in the streets saw the procession: at Constitution Hill, on the other hand, contrary to expectation, it proved quite easy to see, and the most timid here were able to enjoy the pageantry with perfect facility and safety.
The morning of the great day - Thursday, June 28, 1838 - dawned rather ominously. A cold, slight drizzle fell at about eight o'clock, hut as the time for the procession drew near the sun broke through the clouds.
In the streets the crowds were so dense that after six o'clock it was almost impossible to hire a cab, though suburban omnibuses, with Union Jacks and Royal Standards flying on the roofs, had been pressing forward towards the centre of the town since midnight.
When the Queen entered the Abbey, dressed in a beautiful white satin gown, with eight ladies all in white floating about her, as one spectator remembered them, like a silvery cloud, she paused, as if for breath, and clapped her hands.
From this beautiful beginning the ceremony never faltered. As the Queen knelt to receive the Crown, a ray of sunlight fell on her, and the awed silence was only broken by the sound of the Duchess of Kent's sobbing. Pale and tremulous, but with queenly pride, she took the Sceptre, and, to one of those watching, she seemed to be saying by her attitude: " I have it and none shall wrest it from me.''
The only interruption was old Lord Rollo's fall on the steps of the Throne during the homage and the slightly disconcerting behaviour of two of the royal uncles, who could not be restrained from their customary practice of beating time during the singing of the Handel anthem.
Afterwards there were fire-works and a fair in Hyde Park, and that night most of the theatres in London were open free to the public. No one was to see another Coronation in England for sixty-four years.
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