C. S. Lewis on Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in London on June 2, 1953. C. S. Lewis chose not to attend the festivities because the weather was poor, because he hated crowds, and because he was not in the mood to dress up. Instead, he stayed at home. Many watched the event on television (it was the first fully televised coronation, apparently at the behest of Philip).

About a month later Lewis reflected on the event in a letter to a friend (Letters, 3:343):

You know, over here people did not get that fairy-tale feeling about the coronation. What impressed most who saw it was the fact that the Queen herself appeared to be quite overwhelmed by the sacramental side of it. Hence, in the spectators, a feeling of (one hardly knows how to describe it) — awe — pity — pathos — mystery.

The pressing of that huge, heavy crown on that small, young head becomes a sort of symbol of the situation of humanity itself: humanity called by God to be his vice-regent and high priest on earth, yet feeling so inadequate. As if he said, “In my inexorable love I shall lay upon the dust that you are glories and dangers and responsibilities beyond your understanding.”

Do you see what I mean? One has missed the whole point unless one feels that we have all been crowned and that coronation is somehow, if splendid, a tragic splendor.