A day in the life of a monarch

The stars of the movie.
The stars of the movie.

This week’s film, from 1953, is as much a voyage of discovery to me as it might be to readers. ‘The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II’ is the first film I ever saw.

Actually that is misleading. It should really be the first film I was ever taken to see – aged five, and apparently I slept right through it.

My mother, bless her, thought that taking the young Cook to see this momentous event would be a milestone in his life – as it turned out it was more of a pillowcase.

However, the film can now be found on YouTube, and I have duly swotted up, albeit 61 years later.

Sir Laurence Olivier narrates, if that is not too lowly a word for such a majestic performance. The film opens with his Knightship, solemnly and with portent, quoting Shakespeare to archive footage of scenery from throughout the United Kingdom, which probably explains why I quickly disappeared into a dream featuring, almost certainly, Rupert Bear.

It is staggering to see how many people are involved in the procession and the ceremony – all in pristine livery or uniform. Surely such a spectacle in our times would be financially impossible.

The thousands of hours spent rehearsing, the strict observance of historic precedents, the split-second timing, the creation of the costumes ... even making sure that all the clergy were sober.

And only one take.

But what of the stars of the film, the fresh-faced young Elizabeth Windsor and handsome, dashing, Philip Mountbatten?

Amazingly, 61 years later they are both still active in the film industry and as the most super of superstars their every public movement and utterance is recorded and relayed.

Their range of films, short features, TV clips or cameos has been incredible, from Her Majesty starring with James Bond, to them both supporting Robbie Shepherd at the Braemar Gathering.

There is clearly no sign of a desire to retire from their film careers. Which leaves Charlie chappin’.