On 6th February 1952, King George VI died in his sleep at the age of 56. He had been suffering from a worsening lung condition. As a mark of respect, all cinemas and theatres closed, and BBC programmes were cancelled except for news bulletins. Flags in every town were at half-mast, and sports fixtures were cancelled.
His daughter, Princess Elizabeth immediately succeeded him as the new monarch at the age of 25. After much planning, her coronation took place a year later on 2nd June 1953 at Westmister Abbey in London. She was crowed Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, and Pakistan, as well as taking on the role of Head of the Commonwealth.
The ceremony was attended by approximately 8,000 guests, including: foreign royalty, the Queen's family and leaders from the nations of the Commonwealth. The Queen wore a dress made by Norman Hartnell (decorated with the national flowers of the countries of the Commonwealth) and swore an oath to uphold the laws of her nations and, specifically for England, to govern the Church of England. When the St Edward's Crown was place upon her head by the Archbishop of Canterbury, a shout of "God save the Queen!" was heard, gun salutes were fired and the crowds outside cheered.
Afterwards, the Queen was transported back to Buckingham Palace in a Gold State Coach with an escort of thousands of military personnel. Despite the overcast weather, people had camped out overnight to ensure a prime position and were rewarded when the Queen and her family gathered on the balcony to watch a fly past overhead by the RAF.
The Queen then hosted a coronation luncheon, for which the recipe Coronation chicken was devised, and a fireworks display lit up the skies above the Victoria Embankment in the evening.
The BBC set up their biggest ever outside broadcast to provide live coverage of the event. An estimated 27 million people watched it, with many gathering round neighbours' sets to watch television for the first time.
Street parties took place across the UK and many commemorative souvenirs were produced, including a special set of four postage stamps and a special medal.
News that Edmund Hillary had reached the summit of Mount Everest arrived in Britain and the media dubbed it "a coronation gift for the new Queen".
Shortly after Coronation Day, the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, began a six-month, around the world tour on the Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia.