Long live the King! How the JC reported four coronations

We have reported on four coronations since our first publication in 1841


Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain (L) accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (R) waves to the crowd, on June 2, 1953 in London after being crowned at Westminter Abbey. - Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in British history and an icon instantly recognisable to billions of people around the world, has died aged 96, Buckingham Palace said on September 8, 2022. Her eldest son, Charles, 73, succeeds as king immediately, according to centuries of protocol, beginning a new, less certain chapter for the royal family after the queen's record-breaking 70-year reign. (Photo by various sources / AFP) (Photo by -/INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP via Getty Images)

The JC missed the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838 by just three years, as it was first published in 1841. But since then there have been four coronations to cover, all of them reflecting the priorities of the day.

The August 8, 1902 issue

The coronation of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra fell on Shabbat, August 9, 1902, and the JC’s pre-coronation coverage largely focused on the Chief Rabbi’s recommendations for the order of service for synagogues with the inclusion of special coronation prayers in the paper.

The Chief Rabbi “also suggests, that the minister, in his prayer after the sermon, should offer up thanksgiving for the King’s happy recovery” since he had just got over appendicitis. Poet and social activist Nina Salaman contributed a poem, The Royal Crown, with verses taken from the Bible, to mark the coronation.

A whole article was devoted to how life had improved for Jews in England since the birth of the new king, particularly from 1846 when the Statute of the Jewry, which placed a number of restrictions on Jews, was repealed.

“The virtues of the ruling family have had their potent share in extending to the Jewish citizens of their Empire a share in the equal justice which is administered to British subjects of all races and creeds.”

A writer gave his “Personal Impressions of the King” as someone who “identifies with the tastes, pursuits and amusements of Englishmen”, and, optimistically adds that “the merchant princes, Jewish and Christian, were among the most valued and respected classes of his subjects”. There was also mention of Mr John Solomon, “one of the principal Trumpeters for the Coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey”. Communal nachers were schepped all round despite Mr Solomon playing on Shabbat.

The June 23, 1911 issue
Coverage of the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary the previous day landed on page five as adverts for Palwin Palestine Wine and a long list of “hatches, matches and dispatches” took centre stage.

The editorial —“Long Live The King” sent out a message of Jewish communal loyalty loudly and clearly: “All those who will acclaim King George, none will do so with greater fervor and sincerity than his Jewish subjects.”

It is, however, tempered with “anxiety for what the coming years may bring …either in the way of legislation or…the popular push that drives it forward.”

The Jewish community was ahead of its time in championing equality and diversity, bywords for the 21st century.

Singing the praises of the British Empire and the coronation ceremony, the editor wrote: “These men of varied race, and colour, and creed, who have come to attend the Coronation, will remind Englishmen that the Empire is built up of diverse peoples and interests and that it exists by virtue of its tolerance to every faith.”

There was proud mention of “one Jewish baronet” and “three Jewish knights” in the list of coronation honours and, as well as a coronation sermon “specially written for the Jewish Chronicle”, there were the prerequisite coronation poems by Regina Miriam Bloch and another by M.M., which ends with a rapturous: “Yechi Hamelech Lo’olom ! Long live, long live the King!”

The May 7, 1937 issue
Nearly three decades later, “The King’s Crowning” on May 12 was again relegated to page five, with announcements and adverts taking precedence, including several congratulating King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Much was made of the British Empire, with an extensive article covering the history and activities of Jewish communities in Australia, Canada, India and parts of Africa, and a reference to Jewish visitors from “the dominions and the colonies”, including details of hosting synagogues.

The Sermon of the Week, entitled “Long Live the King”, was dedicated to the coronation, as was the editorial and the paper’s children’s pages, “Young Israel”, explains rituals of the coronation ceremony, while reminding readers of their loyalty to the monarchy.

Charities made the most of the occasion with the Jewish National Fund appealing to readers to pay for their child’s photo to be put in the “Children’s Book of Honour” as a “coronation thanksgiving…thankfulness that they are living in this country, happy and free, their children protected from the shadow of persecution which darkens Europe”.

Coronation culinary delights featured in the cookery section and the interestingly spelled kosher restaurant Doveed in Piccadilly does its best to entice readers with a “Coronation menu”.

But of greatest interest to readers are probably the adverts for a multitude of coronation balls, dances and cabarets.

The May 29, 1953 issue
“Jews and the coronation — participation in historic rites” was the headline on the front page of the JC ahead of the coronation on June 2, alongside a large photograph of the young queen and above the national anthem in both English and Hebrew.

After a list of Anglo-Jewish dignitaries, headed by the Chief Rabbi, the JC noted that “for the first time in history the state of Israel will participate in a British Coronation in the person of its Ambassador, Mr. Elianu Elath, representing the President, Mr Ben-Zvi”.

Inside the paper, pictures of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and Princess Anne sat alongside prayers in Hebrew.

But a small news story noted that “loyal addresses not to be presented” and reported that “the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association, after consulting with other privileged bodies, have decided, in accordance with precedent, not to present loyal addresses to Her Majesty on the occasion of the Coronation. The Hon. Officers of both organisations feel that it would not be desirable.”

The report pointed out that both organisations sent loyal addresses on the occasion of the Queen’s ascension in 1952.

The paper’s leading article reflected on the changes for the Jewish community since the coronation of the first Queen Elizabeth — with the 300th anniversary of Cromwell readmitting the Jews to England looming in 1956.

A feature recounted the pogrom that followed the coronation of Richard I — and more happily, another celebrated the many Jewish craftsmen who made everything from jewellery to furniture for the royal family.

But maybe the report that gives the best flavour of the age is in the “Home” section.

It started: “In the early hours of Tuesday morning a number of Jewish women will be leaving their London homes carrying greaseproof paper packages of sandwiches.” These lucky women had seats in the Abbey for the coronation, and their sandwiches, carried in evening bags, would be their only sustenance for seven hours.

Among them were “attractive dark-haired Mrs Mishcon”, who was planning to wear a white chiffon dress with a swathed bodice and ballerina skirt, white accessories and a turquoise veil, and Mrs Janner, who was unlikely to see a thing as she was “four foot eleven in her stockinged feet” and did not have a front-row seat.

But alas, wives of religious leaders and widows of peers had to stay at home, because there was no space for them at the Abbey.

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