Chingford News

Chingford pensioner celebrates second coronation in her lifetime

Frances Knappett, 93, took part in Queen Elizabeth’s coronation as a volunteer for St John’s Ambulance

Frances with staff at The Spinney Care Home (credit: John McLellan)

A Chingford pensioner celebrates the second coronation in her lifetime today, after taking part in Queen Elizabeth’s coronation as a volunteer.

Frances Knappett, 93, is a resident at The Spinney Care Home in Forest View and was in her early 20s when Queen Elizabeth II took her vow in the summer of 1953.

The young Frances was a volunteer with the St John’s Ambulance Brigade and remembers being stationed outside the iconic Swan & Edgar department store in Piccadilly Circus from 2am until late afternoon.

A photo of the young Frances (credit: John McLellan)

She said: “Most of the time it was pouring with rain and I recall crowds of people laying on the pavements during the night. They were wrapped in whatever they could find to keep dry and warm.

“Sadly, we never got to see the Queen, only the very top of her coach. We found a box to stand on to get a view, however the police told us to get down and we were not allowed to use it. Many in the crowd had periscopes to see the procession.

“We did however get to see the top of the head of Queen Sālote of Tonga. It was a very long day…especially in the rain.”

This time around, Frances will enjoy the coronation from the comfort of her care home, where staff have arranged a special lunch and a band to entertain residents and their families.

Frances added: “It was a day I will never forget and I’m looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere a second time around safe in the knowledge I won’t get caught in the rain or have to get up at such an hour.

“The team has a day of activities planned and I know the spirit will be high as we celebrate a new era with a new King.”