Smithsonian Channel Celebrates The 65th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation

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In a global event, in partnership with the BBC and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Smithsonian Channel shares the compelling story of the Crown Jewels and the ancient ceremony for which they are used in THE CORONATION.


On June 2, 1953, after 16 months of planning, The Queen set out from Buckingham Palace to be crowned at Westminster Abbey, in a ceremony that was watched by millions of people throughout the world. A ceremony dating back more than a thousand years was to herald the dawn of a new Elizabethan age. 

As part of the film, to mark the 65th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen's Coronation, The Queen shares memories of the ceremony, as well as that of her father King George VI in 1937.

In a global event, broadcast across three continents, the film premieres in the U.S. exclusively on Smithsonian Channel Sunday, January 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. 

Viewing both private and official film footage, The Queen recalls the day when the weight of both St. Edward's Crown and the hopes and expectations of a country recovering from war were on her shoulders, as the nation looked to their 27-year-old Queen to lead them into a new era.


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In the film, The Queen says, "I've seen one Coronation, and been the recipient in the other, which is pretty remarkable."

The film also explores The Crown Jewels, which form part of the Royal Collection, one of the largest and most important art collections in the world. Consisting of 140 items and containing 23,000 precious stones, these sacred objects form the most complete collection of royal regalia in the world.

Exploring the role and symbolic meaning of the Crown Jewels in the centuries-old coronation ceremony, THE CORONATION shows these objects of astonishing beauty in new high-resolution footage.

The film tells the extraordinary story of St. Edward's Crown, which was destroyed after the English Civil War and remade for the Coronation of Charles II in 1661. It has only been worn by Her Majesty once, at the moment she was crowned. 

THE CORONATION features eyewitness accounts of those who participated in the 1953 Coronation, including a maid of honor who nearly fainted in the Abbey, and a 12-year-old choirboy who was left to sing solo when his overwhelmed colleagues lost their voices.

"Fascination with the Royal Family has probably never been higher than today, and there is great admiration for the Queen," said David Royle, Executive Vice President of Programming and Production for Smithsonian Channel.

When the Coronation was broadcast in the U.S. in 1953, it was the first time the U.S. networks broadcast same-day coverage of European events, and it was watched by an immense audience. Now, this program sweeps aside the fictional dramas of more recent times and brings our viewers the definitive account of the Crown Jewels and their role in this ancient and remarkable event. This is a uniquely intimate portrait of the Coronation that is sure to create new levels of interest in America. 

"The Crown Jewels include "The Regalia," which are used at a coronation, when the monarch is invested with the best known, if least understood, symbols of this kingdom," said Coronation expert and key contributor Alastair Bruce. "Post boxes, Police helmets, Income Tax Returns and almost every visual expression of the United Kingdom displays a Crown and Orb. The meaning of each of the key objects has evolved from emblems of authority that date way back before the Saxons arrived. Yet there is an enduring relevance to modern leadership wrapped into each symbol that express values of humility, duty and service, while representing total power. Discovering their meaning helps to define what the Sovereign is to the Crown and how that Crown is the property of us all, in the constitutional function of Monarchy."

THE CORONATION is made by Bafta and Emmy Award winning Atlantic Productions. It is a co-production with Smithsonian Channel and ABC Television and distributed by FremantleMedia International. In a global simulcast, it will be broadcast across the United States, UK and Australia by its broadcast partners. 

"It is truly an honor to have Her Majesty The Queen revealing her intimate knowledge of the Crown Jewels - and fond childhood memories from when her father was crowned King George VI - in this very special BBC One film," said Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content. "The Queen's words will bring to life the importance of the coronation ceremony for modern audiences to enjoy." 

"The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was an international and momentous event, which took 16 months of preparation and was watched by millions across the globe for the first time in history," said Anthony Geffen, CEO of Atlantic Productions. "Our project marks another first. Her Majesty The Queen's own recollections of the time. We are honored to be able to create this lasting historical document and hugely appreciative of the collaboration with The Royal Household and our broadcast partners."

"The ABC are delighted to be the broadcast partner for this very special, historical event," said Michael Carrington, Acting Head of Television, ABC said. "The crowning of Queen Elizabeth II was a defining moment in the history of television, and the modern world, and we are excited to bring the symbols and pageantry of her Coronation to life for our ABC audiences in 2018."

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"Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation is a landmark television event and we are thrilled to be working with Atlantic Productions to bring their unique documentary film to international buyers," said Angela Neillis, Director of Non-Scripted, UK, EMEA and Asia Pacific, FremantleMedia International. "Her Majesty The Queen is a much loved and respected global figure and the Royal Family continues to fascinate audiences across the world."

Executive Producer for Atlantic Productions is Anthony Geffen and Producer/Director is Harvey Lilley. The program consultant is Alastair Bruce. The Executive Producers for Smithsonian Channel are Charles Poe and David Royle.

Smithsonian Channel, owned by Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing entertainment across multiple platforms. Smithsonian Channel combines the storytelling prowess of SHOWTIME® with the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian, to create award-winning programming that shines new light on popular genres such as air and space, history, science, nature, and pop culture. Among the network's offerings are series including Aerial America, America in Color, First Ladies Revealed, Polar Bear Town, The Lost Tapes, Amazing Monkeys, America's Secret Space Heroes, Mighty Ships, Mighty Planes and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include Titanic's Fatal Fire, The Obama Years: The Power of Words, Nightmare on Everest, Diana and the Paparazzi, Diana: The Day We Said Goodbye and Flying High with Phil Keoghan.

Smithsonian Networks also operates Smithsonian Earth(TM), through SN Digital LLC., a new subscription video streaming service delivering spectacular original nature and wildlife content.

To learn more, go to


Images courtesy of Whitney Bell CBS Corporation.


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