Queen's coronation details revealed in documentary

Media caption,
"You can't look down" while wearing a royal crown, the Queen tells royal commentator Alastair Bruce

A sacred oil made from orange flowers and jasmine was used to anoint the Queen during her coronation, a new BBC documentary will reveal.

The oil, which dates back to the 17th century, is held in great secrecy by the Dean of Westminster at the Abbey.

In the hour-long programme - The Coronation - the Queen talks to royal commentator Alastair Bruce about the ceremony in 1953.

The Queen also discusses her childhood memories of her father's coronation.

As an 11-year-old, the then princess wrote that the arches of Westminster Abbey were covered in "a sort of haze of wonder" when King George VI was crowned in 1937.

"I remember my father making me write down what I remembered about his coronation. It was very valuable," the Queen tells the presenter.

During a coronation, the new monarch is anointed under a canopy.

On 2 June 1953, live cameras filming the ceremony turned away during this symbolic moment.

During the programme, Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, says the oil from 1953 is kept safe in a flask in deanery.

While the exact recipe of the oil is not known, Dr Hall said: "The composition of the oil was founded upon that used in the 17th century.

"Then you see what it consists of sesame seed and olive oil, perfume with roses, orange flowers, jasmine, musk, civet and ambergris."

For the ceremony, the oil is kept in a solid gold flask called an ampulla, shaped like an eagle.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Queen Elizabeth II walks and the Archbishop of Canterbury during her coronation

The documentary gives an insight into the scale of preparations required for the coronation ceremony

"For six months, they closed the abbey," Dr Hall said.

"They laid a railway track down the centre of the abbey, bringing in tonnes and tonnes of wood and iron."

Some 8,000 people fitted into the abbey for the occasion in 1953.

On Sunday, the Queen will also feature in a special Songs of Praise episode marking 150 years of Christian charity, the Scripture Union.

The pre-recorded event is hosted by singer Katherine Jenkins and airs on BBC One on 14 January at 16:30 GMT.

The Coronation will be screened on BBC One on Sunday 14 January at 20:00.

More on this story

Around the BBC