Memories of Queen’s coronation close to home

Longtime Oak Bay residents, and loyalists to the Queen, Betty and Ralph White recall Her Majesty’s accession to the throne 60 years ago

Betty and Ralph White with a souvenir program from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Betty White rustles through a green plastic bag. She carefully pulls out memorabilia from Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation 60 years ago.

Documents of the Queen’s crowning, including an invitation, menu and program guide – all of which once belonged to Betty’s aunt Annie Keating – soon cover the top of the wooden coffee table.

Over the years, Betty has collected various books and magazines relating to the Royal family, but none of the documents are as special as the ones her aunt once held.

“(My nieces) were going to throw it out and just burn it,” Betty said, adding that she came across the papers again while recently cleaning the house.

Queen Elizabeth II began her reign in February 1952, after the death of her father King George VI.

Betty’s aunt Annie was a housekeeper for a “big industrial family” in Glasgow, Scotland at the time. She received an invitation to Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, which took place June 2, 1953, through the family she was working for.

Annie was an “old-fashioned matron” who never married. She and her English friends would get together and wear hats like the Queen’s, Betty recalled.

Annie’s loyalty to the Queen is reflected in Betty.

Betty, 72, remembers getting goosebumps while watching the Queen’s coronation on TV when she was 12 years old.

“We lived in a village (in Scotland) of maybe 200 houses and one TV,” Betty said. “We all crowded at this house to see the coronation on TV, and the TV was 13 (inches) by 13.”

Very few TVs were available back then, adds Betty’s husband, Ralph White, who is also a fan of the Queen.

“One of the big furniture stores, which were selling TVs, they invited people to come… and there was hundreds of people in the big store watching little TVs,” Ralph, 74, said.

A self-professed history buff, Betty said she loves anything relating to the history of Scotland and England.

The fact that Betty has had her aunt’s documents for so many years is what keeps her interested in the Royals, Ralph said.

For Betty, the Queen is a woman to look up to.

“She’s done so much for the world. … You look at her as though (she were) a great big aunt,” Betty said.

“I think the biggest part (of her coronation) was her just accepting the crown, and then coming out with all the robes and everything on.”

The Queen’s ability to not allow family turmoil to get in the way of her duties is what the Whites respect

about her.

“(I admire) the way she’s handled herself, as far as all the muck that her family’s been through,” Betty said.

“She’s above all that (drama),” Ralph added.

“She’s kept herself separate from the whole thing and she still gets on with the job.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway blockade ends three hours later

About 80 people from four major Peninsula First Nations blocking major highway

Central Saanich Police prepared for afternoon shut-down of Highway 17

Sgt. Paul Brailey questions efficacy of protest

City of Langford rebrands, announces several projects

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

Fiddler on the Roof brings timely message to Oak Bay stage

Musical starts Friday in Dave Dunnet Theatre

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day in Victoria

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Most Read