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Englishness and Empire 1939-1965$
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Wendy Webster

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226641.001.0001

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Coronation Britain

Coronation Britain

(p.92) 4 Coronation Britain
Englishness and Empire 1939-1965


Oxford University Press

The narrative of a ‘people's empire’ had little currency in Britain after the mid-1950s. This chapter looks at Coronation year in 1953 as a moment that marked a post-war high-point in this narrative. The Coronation could be regarded as a notable example of the type of cultural representation that people come to imagine a shared experience of identification with the nation. The publicity which it received beforehand, the procession and ceremony on Coronation Day, and the aftermath of the ceremony, including viewings of A Queen is Crowned, all mobilized a wide variety of symbols and images of nationhood. Much of Britain, especially London, was turned into what would later be known by a term of American origin — ‘theme park’. The theme was Britishness, and there was very little about the occasion that did not make reference to ideas of national tradition and culture, marking what was perhaps the most fulsome celebration of British heritage in the history of the 20th century.

Keywords:   coronation, Queen Elizabeth, British culture, British heritage, Coronation, nationhood

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