The coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth as King and Queen of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth and as Emperor and Empress of India took place at Westminster Abbey, London, on 12 May 1937. King George ascended the throne upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII.
The ceremony began with the anointing of the King, symbolising his spiritual entry into kingship, and then his crowning and enthronement, representing his assumption of temporal powers and responsibilities. The peers of the realm then paid homage to the King before a shorter and simpler ceremony was conducted for the Queen’s coronation.
The event was designed to be not only a sacred anointing and formal crowning, but also a public spectacle, which was also planned as a display of the British Empire. In the lead up to the coronation, guests from across the Empire and around the world assembled on Buckingham Palace and official receptions were held to welcome them; amongst those attending were Indian princes and, for the first time, native African royalty. For the event itself, the prime ministers of each Dominion took part in the procession to the abbey, while representatives of nearly every country attended. Contingents from most colonies and each Dominion participated in the return procession through London’s streets.
The return procession to Buckingham Palace was over six miles in length, making it the longest coronation procession up to that time; crowds of people lined the streets to watch it, over 32.000 soldiers took part and 20.000 police officers lined the route.
There were representative detachments from all the elements of the British armed forces and the reserve forces, the British Indian Army and Royal Indian Navy, contingents from the British Dominions and a contingent representing the defence forces of the Colonial Empire. Contingents taking part represented the following sections of the Empire: India, the dominions of Canada, Australia (a contingent of 100 soldiers, 25 sailors and 25 airmen), New Zealand, Burma, Newfoundland and South Africa, and the Colonies of Southern Rhodesia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Nyassaland, the Gambia, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, Somalia, the Aden, Transjordan, Malta, the West Indies, Guyana, Honduras, Ceylon, the Falklands and Hong Kong.
The coronation was commemorated by the issuing of official medals, coinage, and stamps, by military parades across the Empire, and by numerous unofficial celebrations, including street parties and the production of memorabilia.
The media played an important part in broadcasting this show of pageantry and imperialism to the Empire, which marked George and Elizabeth’s coronation as an important event in the history of television, being the world’s first major outside broadcast. It was also the first coronation to be filmed, as well as the first to be broadcast on radio.
“Disregarding the wintery showers, thousands of citizens crowded footpaths and doorways, or leaned from windows, to welcome these splendid specimens of Australian manhood who had returned from an honourable mission, honourably accomplished.”
The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 July 1937
Australian Light Horse were mounted troops with characteristics of both cavalry and mounted infantry, who served in the Second Boer War and World War I.
At the start of World War I, Australia committed to provide an all volunteer expeditionary force of 20,000 personnel known as the Australian Imperial Force, which would consist of an infantry division and a light horse brigade. As Australia’s commitment to the war increased, the size of the light horse contingent was expanded, with a second and third light horse brigade being raised in late 1914 and early 1915. The light horse regiment’s first involvement in the fighting during the war came during the Gallipoli Campaign, where the troops of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Brigades were sent to Gallipoli without their horses to provide reinforcements for the infantry.
During the inter-war years, a number of regiments were raised as part of Australia’s part-time military force. These units were gradually mechanised either before or during World War II, although only a small number undertook operational service during the war. A number of Australian light horse units are still in existence today, including the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry), now an armoured reconnaissance unit equipped primarily with the ASLAV armoured fighting vehicle.
Samuel John Hood (1872 – 1953) was an Australian photographer and photojournalist whose career spanned from the 1880s to the 1950s. Hood opened his first studio in 1899, with the main source of income being generated from portraiture and weddings. In 1918 he acquired the Dalny Studio at 124 Pitt Street, and began to expand his business into press photography, providing photographs for the local newspapers. By the mid-1930s most newspapers employed their own photographers, and Hood’s commissions from the papers began to decline. Hood sought other kinds of commissions, and won a number of long term advertising and commercial contracts. Throughout his career he worked at the stock-in-trade for commercial photographers: portraits, weddings and even funerals.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
Wikipedia: Australian Light Horse
Australian Light Horse Association
Wikipedia: Sam Hood
State Library of New South Wales
Sydney Bus Museum