On this day in 1559 (*), Elizabeth was crowned queen in Westminster Abbey in London. Her coronation procession, which saw her borne amid the throng on a golden litter, paused on its way for the staging of five pageants in her honour. The first pageant symbolised her Genealogy, and emphasised her “Englishness” and Protestantism (in contrast to her late sister Mary’s “Spanishness” and Catholicism), and her descent from Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York, whose marriage had unified the country after the Wars of the Roses. The second, her Government, and its virtues of True Religion, Love of Subjects, Wisdom and Justice. The third, during which the Lord Mayor presented her with a gift of gold, the Interdependence of the Crown and the City. The fourth, during which a figure representing Truth presented her with a copy of the Bible bearing the English inscription “The Word of Truth”, the Thriving – English, Protestant – Commonwealth. The fifth, Elizabeth as Deborah, the prophetess of the Old Testament who rescued the House of Israel and went on to rule for forty years.
The symbolism and Elizabeth’s own words greatly reassured the anxiously watching public, and her dignified demeanour and common touch further warmed her to them. At one point in the proceedings, she pledged “And whereas your request is that I should continue your good lady and be Queen, be ye ensured that I will be as good unto you as ever Queen was unto her people. No will in me can lack, neither do I trust shall there lack any power. And persuade yourselves that for the safety and quietness of you all I will not spare if need be to spend my blood. God thank you all”.
(*) The date was chosen as a particularly auspicious one by Elizabeth’s astrologer John Dee.