Ailsa Duce (second from right) as Queen Elizabeth in the 1937 coronation re-enactment. Photo: Whiteheads Studio
Ailsa Duce (second from right) as Queen Elizabeth in the 1937 coronation re-enactment. Photo: Whiteheads Studio

Ailsa recalls the day she reigned

BUNDAMBA octogenarian Ailsa Duce was once crowned as queen.

That was in 1937 and she's kept precious mementos of the royal occasion.

Recent talk of a British coronation and its Diamond Jubilee has stirred pleasant memories of the time she donned the robes and crown of office.

The "mock" coronation took place in Ipswich six months after the London crowning of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth.

Australians were in those days besotted with anything to do with royalty, so a mini coronation was played out by Bundamba State School students at the National Hall at Booval.

Ms Duce, then 10 years old, remembers her starring role as Elizabeth and the elaborate costumes.

"It was a great big excitement when they decided who was going to play the parts," she said.

"We had all the royal guards.

"My sister made my costume and embroidered it. I had six little girls carrying the train.

"All our clothes were modelled on the coronation."

Ms Duce's paper crown "wore out" but she has lovingly preserved the purple cloak with its long train.

She intends to hand the keepsake over to the Ipswich Historical Society in the future.

Ms Duce's brush with the splendour of a coronation doesn't make her a diehard fan of the royal family.

"I'm half and half (royalist and republican)," she said. "I'm not a (Prince) Charles fan."

George VI, the current Queen's father, became king unexpectedly following the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, in 1936.

His struggle with a persistent stutter was recently the subject of a movie, The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth.

George VI's coronation came just two years before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Some say his greatest achievements came during this war, when he remained for most of the time at Buckingham Palace - which was bombed nine times.

He and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, visited severely bombed areas in the East End of London and elsewhere in Britain.

As part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations this year, their daughter Queen Elizabeth II - accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh - will visit Northern Ireland on June 26 and 27.



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