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Coronation of King George VI - May 12, 1937

November 19th, 2010

With the recent news about the announcement of a royal wedding, I thought it would be a good time to visit a curious disc set in my collection that featured another royal event in the news.

In the middle of the unrest in Europe, Great Britain faced an upheaval in the monarchy with George VI's ascension to the throne.  George's elder brother, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne to marry the socialite Wallis Simpson.  The story received considerable coverage here in the US and the networks carried the BBC's coverage of the coronation of the new king.

transcription label

This disc set includes the ceremonies leading up to the coronation, the coronation itself, along with the new monarch's first speech and sounds as if it was recorded either direct from the shortwave feed or from a network line carrying the shortwave broadcast.  It's unclear to me if the coverage is continuous or represents various excerpts from the broadcast.

The origins of the disc set are obscure, but it appears to be produced by a small company as a souvenir of the event for US listeners.  It gives a good idea of what listeners heard stateside that tuned in to a royal event that only happens once a generation.

Our digital file was transferred from an original blue shellac 8-sided 12" 78 rpm set on the General Sound and Transcription Company label, matrix numbers AT1210 through AT1217.  The style of the pressing and matrix numbers indicates it may have been pressed by Columbia.

Update, 11/20/2010:  Date corrected.


  • Bob Pedersen

    The date on this should be May 12, 1937.

    Nov 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm
  • Walt Santner

    BBC RADIO TIMES The Coronation also was televised!


    May 7, 1937 - Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

    The Coronation dominates this weeks programming and this edition and the procession itself was televised from the North and South faces of the main arch of Apsley Gate, Hyde Park Corner.

    The week ends with A Tour Of The London Television Station where television cameras will be used to give viewers an idea of what goes on behind the scenes at Alexandra Palace.

    Official BBC Television Services started in 1936 and the Radio Times was keen to feature and promote the service from the beginning. There was a special edition of the magazine, the Television Number, complete with a highly collectable cover designed by Eric Fraser, and in a fraction of the London area editions, a free Television Supplement was included. ====== More Pre-War RADIO TIMES issues as PDF Complete sets of these are quite rare, especially in good condition, so a project was devised to source and digitise all 28 pre-war Television Supplements, the Television launch edition, and articles and schedule listings from the Radio Times itself until the service closed down at the outbreak of World War II.


    Nov 24, 2010 at 10:59 pm
  • Dr. OTR

    I really enjoyed this. As Americans we’re so ingrained to the separation of Church and State that it’s a bit startling to hear the oath begin with an affirmation that the ruler is a good Protestant. I kind of forget the sovereign is also head of the Church of England, defender of the faith (and that all kinds of wars have been fought in British History, at least in part over religious schisms).

    Dec 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm