Break out the bunting!
Republicans should look away now (unless a fondness for bunting and street parties outweighs any qualms you may have; if that’s the case, you can still skip to the end of the post, and I’ll throw in a map with republican connotations just for you).
As this is the first Diamond Jubilee in 115 years I can hardly let it pass without making a special royal window. Here are a few of the items I’ll be including.
This is Macdonald Gill’s 1937 map of the Coronation procession of the Queen’s father, George VI. This is from the deluxe edition of the souvenir programme, picked out in gold:
The programme (and Gill’s map) appeared in three forms: a miniature edition; a full-size but basic edition for 1 shilling, and a deluxe edition at 2/6, complete with tassels.
I also have the 1937 Coronation edition of the A1 Atlas, a forerunner of the A-Z, in lovely condition. The AA’s 1953 Coronation Day map contains handy advice for motorists on road closures (most of central London … it’s nothing new) and how to apply for windscreen labels and other permits.
Here is the Daily Telegraph’s souvenir map for the present Queen’s 1947 ‘austerity’ wedding. Drawn by P. Zadwill after N.V. Gray, it’s a pictorial map of London which, stylistically, owes more than a nod to Gill:
Skipping ahead to 1953 and the Coronation itself, here’s the official London Transport map of the processional route:
And this is a striking poster advertising the Coronation Cruise on board the ‘Green Goddess’, the green-liveried Cunard liner RMS Caronia:
Named by the present Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, the Caronia made her maiden transatlantic voyage in 1949. She was a state-of-the-art vessel, fitted out with en suite bathrooms and an open air swimming pool, but the golden age of liner travel (as opposed to cruising) was all but over, thanks to competition from a new generation of long haul jet airliners. After a decade in service the Caronia was refitted as a cruise ship, and within a quarter century of her launch she was broken up for scrap.
Only the most prescient passengers might have guessed at that in 1953. The Coronation Cruise seems to have been aimed at the American market. After a luxurious European cruise (see map …) the ship docked in Southampton where she became a floating hotel for the duration of the Coronation. On the day itself, her 500 passengers were conveyed by specially chartered Pullman train to London, where seats had been reserved for them at the specially built viewing stand at Apsley House. There’s more information here: http://bit.ly/LRFqxn
The language of the map is interesting. The Anglo-American flags make perfect sense in context. The faintly baroque dolphins, flying fish and scallop shell all seem very ‘new Elizabethan’, and the depiction of the Spanish Armada clinches the reference, harking back to the perceived glories of the first Elizabeth’s reign - some swashbuckling fun after all that austerity. Unlike the other maps we’ve looked at here, which were made to inform and entertain pretty much anyone attending these events, this one was aimed at a wealthy few; acknowledging that, I still find it a joyful, optimistic map.
However, if all this pageantry is too much for you, here is something entirely different, John Speed’s map of Scotland:
When originally engraved c. 1610 the decorative border featured James I and VI and his family; during the interregnum the royals were burnished from the plate, usurped by an entirely plebian ‘Scotch man’ and woman, and ‘Highland man’ and woman, never to be restored (unlike James’s grandson, Charles II …) Perhaps it is more surprising that the royal arms remained undisturbed on the rest of Speed’s county maps. The tradition dates back to Saxton’s series of English county maps in the 1570s, the first national atlas of any country. Elizabeth I contributed towards the engraving of the plates, and the appearance of her arms has none-too-subtle undertones of royal authority and control.
And here’s the window itself: