Centre Point was conceived in the late 1950s, completed in 1966, and has been standing for almost half a century. It’s remarkable to think that, throughout that time, the same monarch has been on the throne. With the Diamond Jubilee celebrations under way, it’s interesting to look back at how the 1960s changed the way royalty is perceived.
When the decade began, Queen Elizabeth had already been on the throne for eight years. She became Queen on 6 February 1952, although the official coronation didn’t take place until 2 June 1953. The ceremony at Westminster Abbey was the biggest outside broadcast of its time. It contributed to millions of television set sales and is often cited as the birth of television as a mass medium.
Come the social revolution of the 1960s, deference went out of fashion and royalty was in danger of becoming an anachronism. It was a challenge to which the Queen responded with quiet resolve. Fashion-wise, the royal hemline rose but only modestly – just enough to signal a connection with changing times. The Queen’s public image became noticeably more informal, culminating in a documentary screened by the BBC in 1969. Royal Family was an attempt to demystify the monarchy, to which the Queen reportedly gave her reluctant consent. The film drew a sensational response and was viewed by around 75% of the UK population. But it arguably laid the ground for the increasing press intrusion that has afflicted the Royal Family ever since.
In 1966, the year that Centre Point was completed, the Queen and Prince Philip were among the 93,000 spectators at Wembley to see England triumph in the World Cup. At the time, few could have imagined the royal couple would still be here 46 years later to witness the London 2012 Olympics. Here’s hoping there is equal cause for celebration.