Queen’s historic coronation close-up only captured by cameraman’s ‘naughty’ trick

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Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, celebrates her Platinum Jubilee this year, with festivities culminating over a four-day extravaganza next week. Her Majesty’s historic 70-year reign will be honoured across the nation with the lighting of the Jubilee beacons, street parties and community celebrations. She ascended the throne in February 1952 following the death of her father King George VI, and her coronation took place over a year later in June 1953 at Westminster Abbey.

The event was broadcast live to a TV audience of over 20 million, marking a significant step in British royal history. 

However, the Queen was not initially onboard with so much public involvement in the highly symbolic ceremony. 

The 2018 documentary, ‘Elizabeth: Our Queen’, shed light on why Her Majesty was against her coronation being televised, and how a “naughty” cameraman managed to get the forbidden close-up shot.

Speaking during the documentary, royal expert Robert Lacey claimed the Queen did not want the sacred part of the ceremony to be televised.

He said: “She was happy with the procession coming down the aisle and anything being filmed up to the rood screen, but inside that special part of the Abbey, she thought that should be private, she didn’t like the idea of it and Churchill responded to her concerns and backed her all the way.” 

It was decided that the coronation ceremony would not be televised, causing public and press outrage.

Mr Lacey said: “The newspapers of every persuasion from the Mirror to the Times, that very day said: ‘No, this is not on, this is a great public national moment, it has to be seen.’”

Responding to the outrage, Winston Churchill partially backed down and decided that the decision should be reviewed. 

However, at the same time, the former prime minister imposed other restrictions, including: “No close-up views of the Queen should be photographed or televised at any stage of the ceremony.”

BBC broadcaster Peter Dimmock, who had been fighting to televise the coronation, was enlisted to stage a practice-run of the filming in the Abbey to assure the Queen that there would be no close-ups. 

But Mr Dimmock had a “naughty” trick up his sleeve, as his daughter, Christina Aldridge, told the documentary: “My father was quite naughty because when he did that demonstration in the Abbey to the establishment, he used a wide two-inch lens, so that when he showed them what it would look like on television, it looked as though it was very far away — the camera — but on the actual day, he didn’t use that lens. 

“He used a different lens which meant he got that fabulous close-up of the Queen which was so successful and everybody loved it.” 

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In the end, Her Majesty compromised and allowed the whole ceremony to be televised — with the exception of one moment. 

While it is recognised for the pomp and pageantry, it is also a deeply religious ceremony, and perhaps the most sacred section of the service is The Act of Consecration, which saw the Sovereign, seated in King Edward’s chair, “anointed, blessed and consecrated” by the Archbishop using holy oil. 

The Queen insisted that this part of the ceremony was conducted in secrecy.

Her Majesty then received the orb and sceptres, before St Edward’s Crown was placed on her head. 

Later, she appeared on Buckingham Palace balcony for the infamous royal moment. 

Standing alongside her family, the monarch waved at crowds of well-wishers. 

Next week, the Queen is expected to stand in the same spot as she watches the Jubilee flypast during her annual birthday parade. 

While Her Majesty’s attendance at Jubilee events is yet to be confirmed, the Trooping the Colour balcony appearance is reportedly one of the monarch’s top priorities.

The Palace will confirm her appearance on the day.

‘Elizabeth: Our Queen’ is available to stream on Channel 5 here.

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