‘The most vivid memory’: Harrow ex-soldier, 92, remembers working Queen’s coronation in 1953 for the Jubilee

A 92-year-old ex-soldier from Harrow remembers working at the 1953 Queen’s Coronation event.

As Queen Elizabeth arrived at Buckingham Palace for her coronation in 1953, the crowds swelled and pushed forward.

George Vulkan, 23, and his army colleagues in the Royal Signals were tasked with keeping the public at bay - so they linked arms to control the hordes.

Now, with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee marking 70 years since she acceded the thrown after the death of her father, George, now 92, remembers working at her coronation the following year.

George Vulkan in his Coronation Uniform in 1953 (Credit: McCarthy Stone)

He was in the middle of two years of national service, and says: “The Queen’s coronation is my most vivid memory of my time in the army.”

“I was in the Royal Signals attached at the time to the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards,” George explains.

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“Much to my regiments’ surprise, we were told in early 1953 that we would be participating in the coronation.”

And almost 70 years later, George still remembers the uniform he wore that famous day.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (L) accompanied by Britain’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (R) waves to the crowd, June 2, 1953 after being crowned at Westminster Abbey in London. Credit: INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP via Getty

“Most of our training for the day of the coronation turned out to be irrelevant, but I do remember how we were fitted out with special blues uniforms for the occasion,” he said.

“Two days before the event we were transferred to a camp in St James Park for rehearsals.

“Our job was to be in The Mall, lining the route.

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“We had to present arms as the processions passed, acting as auxiliary police immediately behind the front line of soldiers.

“Although we also had to be in place many hours before the procession towards the abbey, we were able to move and keep an eye on the densely packed crowds of spectators.

“We were supposed to face away from the route towards the spectators but did however manage to catch glimpses of the processions.”

Crowds in Trafalgar Square for the coronation - like the ones George had to repel outside Buckingham Palace. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

And George remembers the most difficult part of the day was controlling the baying crowd.

He says: “Our more difficult role came after the Queen had reached Buckingham Palace, as we quickly had to move to control the crowds before they were able to surge towards the Palace.

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“We linked arms and had to control the ever increasing pressure of the surge until at last we were given the order to let go.

“That also meant we were free for the rest of the day and did not have to return to the encampment until the next morning.

“A sore point was that the Coronation Medal was issued on the basis of one per troop, drawn by lot, and the rest had to apply and pay for it.

“Nevertheless, it was a real honour to be a part of such an enormous occasion in British history.”

George in 1952 - the same year the Queen acceded the throne.

The ex-soldier now lives in a retirement community in Harrow with his wife, and spends his days reading.

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He said: “I moved to Randolph House in 2018 with my wife. I am now 92 and disabled so it is not as easy for me to get about.

“I spend my spare time reading and keeping in the know of what is going on in the world.

“My wife and I also enjoy meeting up with the other homeowners at Randolph House, enjoying a chat during our coffee mornings and numerous other social events happening at the development.

“We also have an on-site restaurant which is perfect when you don’t want to cook.”

An elderly George at his home in Randolph House, Harrow.

Now, with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee approaching, homeowners at Randolph House, Harrow, including Vulkan and his wife, will welcome local retirees and their friends and families to the development.

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A special two-day celebration will take place today and tomorrow to mark 70 years of Her Majesty The Queen’s service.

Day one will see Randolph House host a Platinum Party where all guests are encouraged to dress up in 1950s fashion.

There will be a live band performing 1950s music, a quiz testing their knowledge from the era, and cocktails to enjoy.

Day two of the celebratory event will invite guests to enjoy a Big Jubilee Lunch. The BBQ will start from 1pm in the gardens of the development.