Derbyshire woman's memories of attending Queen's proclamation and coronation
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Nina Leden was just 22 when the news broke that King George VI had died.
Her boss at the time, Sir Harry Legg-Bourke, was an MP for the now disbanded Isle of Ely constituency in Cambridge and gave her the day off work so she could go to St James’ Palace in London where the Queen’s proclamation was taking place.
Now aged 92, Nina still remembers the day well.
She said: “I was there for the outside bit and I remember there were lots of trumpets and the high walls and then everyone said God Save the Queen which was very strange for people as we’d only ever had a king in my lifetime before that.
“My boss said I had to be there as it was a real moment in history.”
Nina was watching the proclamation of King Charles III last weekend and mentioned to her daughter how she had been in attendance at his mother, the Queen’s, proclamation.
Daughter Judy said: “I was shocked as she had never mentioned it before.
“We knew she had been at the coronation but she never said anything about being at the proclamation.”
Nina, who lives in Tideswell, said: “Everything’s changed over the years and people are much more interested in things like that now than they were back then.
“I don’t think many people even knew the proclamation was happening, never mind going along to it.”
The Queen sadly died on Thursday September 8, aged 96.
Her death meant that Prince Charles then became King and will be known as King Charles III.
He was formally proclaimed as the new monarch last Saturday.
In 1952 two services for the Queen were held as she acceded to the throne following the death of her father. One service took place while Her Majesty was still in Kenya, where she had been on a tour of the Commonwealth when she learned of the King’s death, and a second one once she had returned to Britain.
As Nina was part of the outside event she did not see the Queen and does not remember which service she was at.
She said: “There were a lot of middle aged men there – I was the youngest there.
“I may be the only person still alive who was at the proclamation.
“I really was part of history.”
And Nina had a second chance to witness history too. Her MP boss also got her a seat at Whitehall in the Foreign Office so she could watch the coronation procession in June 1953.
She said: “I don’t remember the funeral of the King but I do remember the coronation.
“The country was recovering from World War Two and rationing and then there was this wonderful celebration where people lined the streets.
“There were so many people there. People came with blankets and tents and camped out so they could get the best view.
“I remember seeing the golden coach and the Queen inside and I had never seen anything like that before.
“The coach went by very slowly to give everyone who had come out to see her a proper look.
“It was also raining a lot and I remember the Queen of Tonga, who had been invited to the coronation, stayed out in the rain to watch our Queen pass by when others took shelter inside.”
Nina said she remembers the full ceremonial dress of the guards with their ostrich feathers on their hats.
She also attended Winston Churchill’s funeral and went to see him when he was lying in state.
After her political career with the MP finished, Nina went to work in Paris with NATO before eventually settling in Tideswell.
Her daughter Judy, who also lives in Tideswell, is a world champion for both hang gliding and paragliding and has her own fond memories of the Queen, having had the opportunity to meet her four times.
The 62-year-old said: “I was given my MBE by Her Majesty for services to hang gliding and have met her several times at garden parties as well where the late Duke of Edinburgh was also there too.
“She always made time for everyone, she had a smile and spoke to you like you were the only person in the room.
“There is a profound sadness in her death but she has been blessed with her health and her mind for so many years and the legacy she leaves behind in her death is one of great admiration.”
And Nina added: “It came as a shock not because of her age but the fact she was working two days beforehand meeting the new Prime Minister.
“I think what is really lovely now though is seeing people have great joy for the new King and we have all come together at this moment to share both sadness and happiness.”