Wednesday, June 02, 2010
The fawning, sycophantic tone of the above clip came as a shock even to me, a fawning sycophant if ever there was one; Pathé News - renowned for jingoistic transports of ecstasy that even Fox News would have trouble accomplishing (let alone in such a blithe manner) - really manages to outdo itself on this cheerful (and cheerfully heavy-handed) bit of mid-century propaganda in honour of the coronation of Elizabeth II.
Of course, given the threat to Britain and its way of life presented by the Second World War - whose physical and psychological scars were then still much in evidence throughout the country - it's only natural that, following the cessation of hostilities in May 1945, the British media would spend a few years in a tizzy of uber-Britishness. What better time to indulge such a mania, then, than a coronation, which is at its heart an affirmation of the uniqueness of English government?
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On this day in 1953, for the first time ever, the coronation of an English sovereign was shown on television when Elizabeth II was crowned in a lavish and historic ceremony at Westminster Abbey. Her heavily embroidered coronation gown on that day, designed by Norman Hartnell, featured the floral emblems of most of her realms, including the Tudor rose of England, the Scots thistle, the Welsh leek, the shamrock of Ireland, the wattle of Australia, the maple leaf of Canada, the New Zealand fern, South Africa's protea, two lotus flowers for India and Ceylon, and Pakistan's wheat, cotton and jute.
A colour film was also made of the event, entitled A Queen Is Crowned, which was exhibited all over the world to great acclaim; narrated by Laurence Olivier, the film has been released on DVD in the UK but not in North America.
Long may she reign!
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[As an indication of how times have changed, the President and his intended were able to keep their engagement a secret until five days before they were married... They'd first met, though, when Miss Folsom was an infant - her father Oscar and the President were good friends; after Oscar Folsom died intestate as a result of an 1875 buggy accident Cleveland was appointed the administrator of Folsom's estate, clearly taking a keen interest in the loveliest of his late friend's fiduciary responsibilities. Theirs was a low-key wedding - attended by a few family members and friends as well as the Cabinet and their wives; the 7 pm service was conducted by the Reverend Byron Sutherland, with the assistance of the Reverend William Cleveland, the groom's brother.]
1098 - During the First Crusade the eight-month-long first Siege of Antioch ended when Crusaders Godfrey of Bouillon, Bohemund of Taranto, and Raymond IV of Toulouse took the city from its Muslim occupiers; their celebration, however, would be short-lived. A second siege - really a counter-siege - began just five days later, though neither Yaghi-Siyan nor Kerbogha were able to recapture the city, and after two weeks their own forces were routed outside the city's formidable walls.
1615 - The first Récollet missionaries arrived at Quebec City from Rouen.
1763 - During the period of conflict between European settlers at the First Nations known as Pontiac's Rebellion, a band of Chippewas captured Fort Michilimackinac (near what is now Mackinaw City, Michigan) by diverting the garrison's attention with a game of lacrosse, then chasing their ball into the fort.
1774 - Among the many so-called Intolerable Acts passed by Britain's Parliament intended to bring its rebellious Thirteen Colonies into line following the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, the Quartering Act (first passed in 1765) was reenacted; the legislation required American colonists to have British soldiers live in their homes rather than in barracks, which colonial assemblies had proven unwilling to build.
1848 - Overseen by František Palacký the Slavic Congress began, in Prague, as a show of solidarity in the face of increasing German nationalism in traditionally Slavic territories.
1855 - The Portland Rum Riot occurred in Portland, Maine.
1876 - Hristo Botev, a Bulgarian nationalist and revolutionary, was killed in Stara Planina.
1886 - US President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom in the Blue Room of the White House, becoming the first and so far only president to wed in the Executive Mansion; although John Tyler married Julia Gardiner in June 1844 while President, he did so in New York City.
1924 - US President Calvin Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act into law, granting citizenship to all Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the United States.
1946 - The Italian Republic was born when, as a result of a referendum, Italians apparently decided to abandon their monarchy under the House of Savoy, following which the former King, Umberto II, was sent into exile.
1953 - The coronation of England's Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey was the first such ancient ceremony to be televised.
1966 - The Surveyor program's Surveyor 1 landed in the Moon's Oceanus Procellarum, making it the first American spacecraft to soft land on another planet.
1967 - Protests in West Berlin against the arrival of the Shah of Iran in that city turned into riots, during which student Benno Ohnesorg was killed by a police officer; Ohnesorg's death resulted in the founding of the terrorist group Movement 2 June, best known for its campaign of bombings in and around Berlin as well as the kidnapping of CDU mayoral candidate Peter Lorenz in February 1975, who was handily elected during his five-day captivity.
1990 - A tornado outbreak in the Lower Ohio Valley spawned 88 confirmed tornadoes in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, killing 12; the hardest-hit town in the outbreak, with 6 deaths, was Petersburg, Indiana.
1992 - Denmark rejected the Maastricht Treaty by a thin margin in a national referendum.
1997 - In a Denver courtroom, Timothy McVeigh was convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy for his role in the 1995 terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
1999 - The Bhutan Broadcasting Service began television transmissions in the remote Himalayan kingdom for the first time, on the night of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck's silver jubilee.
2003 - The European Space Agency's Mars Express probe was launched from the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan.
2004 - Ken Jennings began his 74-game winning streak on the syndicated game show Jeopardy!; all told, Jennings has earned $3,022,700 US from the show to date.
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