Whilst many people, from Cardiff to Caernarfon, enjoyed the Coronation with street parties, television gatherings and souvenir mugs, responses to the event went beyond those popular images.
In a paper published in the Cultural and Social History journal, Dr Mari Wiliam a lecturer in modern history, examines the Coronation in Wales and how it revealed different aspects of Welsh identity, both nationally and locally.
For example, on a national level, Y Cymro Welsh language newspaper welcomed the Coronation on its cover page as a Welsh event by including two large images side-by-side: one of the Queen and another of two Welsh folk dancers at the Urdd Eisteddfod. Leading Welsh nationalist icon Saunders Lewis wrote that “Crowning a queen is not a sin”, and welcomed seeing both the Welsh Dragon and the Union Jack fluttering together across south Wales.
However, for the Welsh Republican Movement the Coronation was “sickening” and was only of interest to “Welsh lickspittles”. Plaid Cymru’s policy was to “keep quiet” (“tewi â sôn”) on the Coronation since it was potentially divisive.
Dr Wiliam explained, “By looking back at the Coronation we can see how it reveals the complexities of Welsh identities. In my research I became really intrigued by local reactions to the Coronation, and focused on how people in parts of north-east Wales marked the occasion. The findings were sometimes surprising.”
“In the seaside resort of Rhyl, where I’d expected to find a lot of zeal for the Coronation to appeal to tourists, there were complaints that people were apathetic, and the press was critical that the town hadn’t made a big enough of a ‘splash’ with their Coronation festivities.”
“Meanwhile in the rural, strongly Welsh-speaking village of Llansannan near the Denbigh Moors, the Coronation was honoured not only with traditional Welsh fare such as a noson lawen, Welsh folk music and harp-playing, but also Morris Dancing, a local Coronation Queen parade and singing God Save the Queen.”
“This shows us that looking at big events like the Coronation and the Platinum Jubilee, especially in terms of community celebrations, can tell us a lot about Welsh society and the history. In the case of 1953 there was a mixture of enthusiasm, apathy and a bit of hostility in Wales, and it’s interesting to see the similarities and differences in the current debates around the 2022 Jubilee.”