National Geographic : 1937 May
ALONG LONDON'S CORONATION ROUTE BY MAYNARD OWEN WILLIAMS YOUR favorite newspaper, newsreel, and radio will make you, whoever you be and wherever you are, a coro nation guest. Broadcast to the far corners of the earth, Britain's polychrome pageant will be monarchy's world-wide salute. The regal "pomp and circumstance" which Elgar set to music for the crowning of Victoria's son, Edward VII, now assumes the proportions of a world premiere. In some part of Britain's wide dominions, on which the sun never sets, the Coronation on May 12 will occupy every hour of the clock and millions will rise from sleep to share London's noon-time fervor, Britan nia's greatest day in 26 years. Far from the madding crowd, free from the press of people in the London streets, safe from the crush which "bobbies" dread and against which every precaution is being taken, you will see more than any eyewit ness, hear more than the Peers of the Realm. A bit of program-peeking now may help familiarize you with the setting before the curtain rises on England's greatest outdoor spectacle-the royal ride between cheering throngs from Buckingham Palace to West minster Abbey and back by way of Picca dilly Circus and Hyde Park (map, page 611). While a favored few, dressed in purple or crimson velvet costing twenty guineas a yard and wearing historic jewels beyond price, anxiously guard their every practiced movement, you may take your ease. You'll be thrilled, but you won't be there. Why not do as the Lords and Ladies do, and re hearse the scene in advance? ERMINE IMPORTED FROM CANADA From the wilds of Canada, ermine and miniver-the Coronation's contribution to common vocabulary-have been collected and shipped to England. Skilled workers in white weasel fur, whose last star per formance was in 1911, will still be manu facturing magnificence as you read these lines. Unexampled crowds may cause the police, as a measure of safety, to change the coronation route. Against such a pos sibility, involving the return of money to place holders who have crossed wide seas for a first-hand view of medieval magnifi- cence in a modern world, insurance brokers will fret. When the eight matched horses, sur rounded by Household Cavalry and draw ing the brightly painted State Coach, clop-clop forth from the palace gates, ap proximately five million spectators will be stretched out along a circuitous route more than six miles long. For every lineal foot of the way, nearly eighty persons will line each side of the street. Well indeed it will be for Milady, whose seat has cost as much as her Atlantic cross ing, not to be on the wrong side of the road when the procession starts. Vanity mirrors will flash high overhead, periscopes rise from the tightly packed throng like crowded chimney pots, and folding stilts enable short folk, for once in their lives, to look down on the tall (page 630). Between the sound of military bands and the low rumble of saddle drums carried pan nier-wise on high-stepping chargers, an nouncers will bring to you the very feel of the coronation crowds. But what of the route, submerged in a sea of humanity? ROYAL ROUTE THREADS MODERN LONDON With map in hand and photographs to help visualize the setting for this six-mile pageant, let us follow the coronation route, not hidden by grandstands, cluttered with unwonted crowds, and decked out in flutter ing banners and bright bunting, but as the lover of everyday London knows it, the neutral background against which all this color and movement are projected by age old tradition.* One thing let us note before we start. This is a modern, West End show. St. James's Square, Hyde Park, Mayfair, and Belgravia were off the map of England's early kings. This land route, traversing a cosmopolitan region whose hotels, clubs, and shops are known around the world, has supplanted the water route of the days when a king was rowed to his coronation in a many-oared barge and his highway was the Thames. * See, in THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, "Great Britain on Parade," August, 1935, and "As London Toils and Spins," January, 1937.