Queen’s coronation day Maid of Honour felt ‘awful’ after ’embarrassing mistake’

Anyone who's ever been asked to be a Maid of Honour will recall the shock of being asked the big question by your best mate – and then hoping you don't mess it up.

When Princess Elizabeth became Queen, she needed six Maids of Honour to help her out on the big day as she wed herself to a life of public service.

The ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey, London, on June 2, 1953 – 68 years ago today.

In many ways, events on the day were much like a wedding and the ceremony actually also involved the Queen being presented with The Sovereign's Ring, also known as "The Wedding Ring of England".

The Queen also needed her Maids of Honour to unfurl her 18ft ermine-tipped train as she alighted from the ­magnificent Gold State Coach.

Then they had to follow her as she processed down to the abbey’s altar, carrying the heavy train aloft using silk handles invisibly stitched into its lining.

In the months leading up to the Coronation the six aristocrat Maids of Honour, all aged between 18 and 23, had become celebrities.

Lady Anne Glenconner has recently recalled how they were all “interviewed and photographed and much discussed. We were treated just like the Spice Girls”.

Six of the country’s most blue-blooded young women, they were the daughters of two dukes, three earls and a marquess. All were unmarried.

The two "senior" maids were Lady Rosemary Muir, daughter of the Duke of Marlborough and Lady Jane Rayne, daughter of the eighth Marquess of Londonderry.

The others were Lady Anne, Lady Moyra Campbell, Lady Mary ­Russell and Baroness Willoughby de Eresby.

They have all since recalled their surprise at receiving the invitation from Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, as well as their memories of the special day.

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For the 60th anniversary of the Coronation in 2013, five of them took part in Radio 4 programme The Reunion and recalled the historic day with amazing clarity and humorous detail.

One thing they all agreed on was the absolute shock of being given such an honour – as none of them had never even met the Queen.

Lady Rosemary had encountered Princess Margaret during her “coming out” as a debutante.

She even postponed her own impending marriage so she could take part in the Coronation.

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“It all came out of the blue,” says Lady Rosemary.

“The envelope just suddenly arrived with the command.”

"I was completely gobsmacked," added Lady Mary.

Lady Jane said: "Although my parents knew King George and Queen Elizabeth, I’d never met the Queen so I couldn’t really understand why I’d been chosen."

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Lady Anne revealed: "I was in America selling pottery getting over a sad love affair when I got a telegram saying 'come on, come back, you’ve been chosen'.

"My mother was also asked to be a Lady-in-waiting to the Queen, so I think we were the only mother and daughter in the procession, my mother was walking just behind me."

But sadly one of the maids slipped up ahead of the big day.

The dresses were meant to be kept secret until the big day but Lady Anne, to her perennial horror, let the cat out of the bag by turning up to a dress rehearsal with just a little shrug over her gown.

The press photographers duly seized their moment with one newspaper headline announcing 'She Didn’t Know It Was A Secret'.

"I did feel awful," confessed Lady Anne. "I was so embarrassed."

Radio 4's Coronation Maids episode is available to stream here.

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