UK

Queen Celebrates 60th Anniversary Of Coronation At Westminster Abbey (VIDEO, PICTURES)

04/06/2013 22:06 BST | Updated 04/06/2013 22:08 BST

The 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation was celebrated in a service where her qualities of devotion and self-sacrifice were praised.

At Westminster Abbey on Tuesday, where the Queen was crowned on 2 June 1953, Britain's leaders, royals and ordinary members of the public gathered to honour her.

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The Queen arrives at Westminster Abbey with the Duke of Edinburgh

Six decades have passed since that historic day but the Archbishop of Canterbury said the Queen had remained committed to her role throughout that time.

The Most Rev Justin Welby told the abbey's 2,000-strong congregation that during the coronation ceremony the Queen knelt at the altar and prayed.

He said: "We do not know what was prayed. Her Majesty knelt at the beginning of a path of demanding devotion and utter self-sacrifice, a path she did not choose, yet to which she was called by God.

"Today we celebrate 60 years since that moment, 60 years of commitment."

The Queen's coronation was a spectacle of pomp and ceremony that held the nation spellbound when the young monarch, just 27 years old, was given symbols of leadership and authority.

More than 8,200 guests witnessed the historic events and an estimated 27 million people in Britain watched on television - a relatively new medium at the time.

Most monarchs have been crowned at the abbey since William the Conqueror was anointed there on Christmas Day 1066.

The Archbishop made reference to the death of Drummer Lee Rigby highlighting the efforts of members of the public, such as Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, who went to the aid of the fatally-wounded soldier, and the actions of the police officers who responded to the incident.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Andrew arrive for the service

He said: "When we obey God's call, whoever we are, leading government or quietly serving our local community, we establish a country that is open-handed and open-hearted, serving others with joy.

"In such service we become Britain at its best. We know how to celebrate - as again last year in the Olympics.

"We know how to comfort and grieve - as on the streets of Woolwich, in the courage of passers-by and police."

Sitting with the Queen were her family, led by the Duke of Edinburgh, who pulled out of a royal engagement with her last night after feeling under the weather, but appeared in good spirits.

Other senior royals included the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of Cambridge and his heavily pregnant wife Kate, and Prince Harry.

Prime Minister David Cameron took part in the service of celebration by giving one of two Bible readings. The other was delivered by Kamalesh Sharma, secretary general of the Commonwealth.

The abbey service was divided into the Recognition, Anointing, Homage and Thanksgiving, reflecting parts of the original coronation ceremony.

Artefacts associated with the ceremony including the majestic St Edward's Crown, used to crown new monarchs, also played an important part.

The jewelled crown was placed on the high altar, close to the Queen's seat - the first time it had left the Tower of London since the 1953 coronation.

New monarchs are anointed with holy oil and the ampulla - the gold, eagle-shaped bottle which holds the liquid - was also on the altar.

A flask of aromatic oil - taken from the same batch made for the Queen's coronation - was processed through the abbey, carried by representatives of the people of the UK, and placed by the dean of Westminster on the altar.

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy wrote a poem for the service that focused on the emblem of kings and queens - the crown.

Duffy's short piece, read by actress Claire Skinner, represented the coronation's Homage element and concentrated on the burden and gift that the crown represents for the Queen - "one head alone can know its weight".

Music was an integral part of the Queen's crowning and for today's service the Thanksgiving was represented by the hymn Praise To The Lord, The Almighty, The King Of Creation.

Lollipop lady Victoria Adom, who was one of the UK representatives who carried the flask of oil through the abbey, praised the Queen after the service.

Based at Gateway Primary School, close to London's Regent's Park, she wore her fluorescent yellow City of Westminster uniform during the ceremony.

She said: "I helped bring the oil into the abbey and it was amazing to be so close to the Queen. I walked right past her and can tell you she is a very beautiful lady.

"It was such a surprise to be involved in something so big. It was so exciting, I will never forget it."