Platinum Jubilee: Queen's coronation maid of honour Lady Glennconner recalls an 'extraordinary' day

  • ITV News Anglia's Becky Jago and David Whiteley met Lady Glenconner at Holkham Hall in Norfolk

A maid of honour from the Queen's coronation said she became "slightly like the Spice Girls" when she appeared alongside the monarch 70 years ago.

Lady Glenconner was chosen as one of six young women to accompany Queen Elizabeth on 2 June 1953.

Having just turned 20, she suddenly found herself being watched by millions of people around the world.

"It was hardly real, in a way," she said. "One felt it had all been the most extraordinary dream.

"We were slightly like the Spice Girls. We were photographed everywhere we went. Then, of course, we got a mass of letters after from all over the world - some very peculiar letters."

Describing the day as "like a Disney film", the daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester said there were a number of criteria that had to be met by the Queen's maids of honour.

"People ask me sometimes why we were chosen," she said. "It all sounds a bit snobby nowadays but we all had to be daughters of earls, marquises, or dukes. We had to be unmarried. We had to be the right shape up to a point, and the right height."

Lady Glenconner, whose family runs the Holkham Estate in Norfolk, had received a telegram from her mother breaking the news while visiting the United States to sell pottery.

Opening the message with some hesitation - "in those days you only got a telegram if somebody had died" - she was soon filled with excitement and quickly followed her mother's directions to return home in March 1953.

Lady Glenconner, nee Cooke, having arriving in the UK on the Queen Mary in March 1953. Credit: Press Association

"I was absolutely thrilled," Princess Margaret's lady-in-waiting recalled. "But as thrilled because suddenly everybody wanted to buy my pottery.

"I remember coming back on the Queen Mary, my mother met me and I was waving my order book saying 'Mum!".

"She said 'OK, Anne, but actually we have now got to think about the coronation.'"

Recalling the day itself, Lady Glenconner remembers hearing a roar from the crowds as she waited for the Queen's golden coach to come round the corner where she was waiting to greet her.

"It was so amazing," she said. "It stopped and two pages opened the door and she was wonderful - beautiful skin, amazing eyes, and this fantastic dress embroidered with all the symbols of Great Britain and the Commonwealth."

While the 20-year-old maid of honour admits she felt some nerves at the prospect of being watched by millions of people around the world gathered round television sets - often bought specially for the occasion - the Queen showed no sign of it.

Lady Glennconner said: "When we got in the abbey, she knew exactly where to stand. The Duke of Norfolk, who had organised the whole thing brilliantly, put a little piece of red tape on the blue carpet and she stood with her back to us.

"The train flowed over our hands and she turned round and said 'Ready, girls?'

"We sort of nodded and off we went."

Queen Elizabeth on the balcony of Buckingham Palace surrounded by her maids of honour, including Lady Glenconner. Credit: Credit British Pathe.

Following the ceremony at Westminster Abbey, the maids of honour followed the Queen to Buckingham Palace where they appeared on the balcony in front of thousands of people eagerly waiting to greet them.

A cheer erupted as they first appeared.

"The joy and the love for her - every time she turned to go, no, they wouldn't let her, and back she turned," Lady Glenconner recalled.

With the city packed out for the coronation, the family had been unable to find anywhere to stay after the ceremony and the young maid of honour found herself heading back to her uncle's flat to sleep on the floor.

Born Anne Veronica Coke, she was the daughter of Thomas Coke, 5th Earl of Leicester, and the grand-daughter of Viscount Coke and Charles Yorke, 8th Earl of Hardwicke.

Lady Glenconner grew up alongside the Royal Family, swimming together at the beach at Holkham.

She remains filled with admiration for the Queen.

"I think she's absolutely extraordinary," she said. "I heard her when she was anointed give herself, as long as she should live, to Great Britain and the Commonwealth - and she has."