Queen Elizabeth II

On hearing of the very sad death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, our school Archivist Fiona Hirst, was keen to research the school's connection with Her Majesty. 

The school archives record Royal visits to St Clement Danes Church and to the Holborn Estate Charity almshouses and the official opening of the Chorleywood site by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester. 

Below is an account from The Dane of July 1953 written by one of the lucky pupils of the Grammar School who was chosen to go and watch Her Majesty the Queen’s Coronation procession.  

Interestingly, the Headmaster at the time, Mr McGill Clouston was also the Head when King George VI was crowned in May 1937. 


In common with other schools in the London area, St Clement Danes was allotted a number of places on the Coronation route, and together with the Headmaster, Mr Pooley and Mr McCarthy, 57 boys were picked out by a most impartial ballot. We assembled at White City Stadium at the early hour of 6.15 am on the cold, damp morning of June 2nd and were soon bundled into an underground train heading for Westminster. By feats of ingenuity, London Transport managed to get us from White City direct to Westminster which are, to say the least, on different lines. The organisation of the route was impressive, our stand being directly opposite Westminster Station and almost on the corner of the embankment and bridge. In fact we were fortunate in being so well-positioned for we were in close proximity to the water supply and ice lolly headquarters. The continual sound of enamel cups clinking against the water tank, which almost caved in due to the presence of so many officials on its top, was small discomfort compared to the advantage we had in our position. Having settled down by 7.30 we were soothed by Mr Victor Sylvester and his orchestra playing sambas and rumbas at full blast over the radio system: spirits being what they were on this fabulous day it seemed like bad policy to me for the whole crowd might easily have utilised the music by dancing merrily and so upsetting all the careful organisation.

However, the music soon stopped and the radios were not used again. We did not have to wait long before things began to happen for we were soon making ourselves alert and ready to view the procession and that was of course that of the Lord Mayor of London in his renowned coach.

I imagine that by standing on the heads of each other we might have been able to view the Speaker of the House of Commons leaving the House at 9.30 but otherwise this was the only section of the entire parade to Westminster Abbey which we did not see. There followed various members of the Royal Family and several dignitaries, representatives and ambassadors of foreign states in motor cars, the drivers of which we applaud for being able to see through the windscreens which were plastered with all kinds of code numbers, serial numbers and parking instructions. Time quickly passed and very soon seven Sultans and the Queen of Tonga were passing before us in open carriages. The Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth led by Sir Winston, who received a special cheer from St Clement Danes, preceded the procession of the princes and princesses of the blood royal and that of Her Majesty the Queen Mother. At last the great moment, awaited so long with breathless expectance, had arrived: the magnificent Golden Coach was gliding towards us along Westminster Embankment . On that day the sight was indeed like something out of a dream. It's brilliant appearance and the warm smile of Her Majesty will be with us always.

The rest of the procession of Her Majesty was also not without inspiration: for here were the men and women who serve her so well, the representatives of the services (many of them on horseback) and members of the Royal Household.

We have feelings of gratitude to many for making it possible that so many of us could see this memorable event.

Image by photographer Cecil Beaton



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