Happy and Glorious

TopFoto Archive


The young Queen’s first State Opening of Parliament, the first Queen to do so since 1886

2004952:  Queen Elizabeth II waves with her left hand to the crowds from the Irish State Coach as she drives with the Duke of Edinburgh through Horse Guards Parade en route to the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament. London – 4 November 1952. Photographed by Charles Dawson. Colourised for TopFoto by Tom Marshall (PhotograFix)

Charles Dawson, photographer and WW2 soldier, was born in south-east London in 1917. He won worldwide acclaim for this picture of the Queen on the day she first opened Parliament in 1952 (she has only missed opening two  Parliamentary sessions – once when pregnant with Prince Andrew, the second when pregnant with Prince Edward).

Dawson’s career took off when enlisted into the No.2 Army Film & Photographic Unit which covered WW2 through Italy. On reaching Pisa, he was assigned a special job documenting the anti-fascist partisans. For this service, he was mentioned in despatches and awarded the British Empire Medal.  Charles Dawson was a staff photographer for Planet News, these images are scanned from our original negatives.  Colourisation by Tom Marshall (PhotograFix).

2004952 : Uncropped, colourised, version from the full negative,  which shows Charles Dawson’s flashbulb reflecting back from the carriage.
1290571 : Charles Dawson, staff photographer for Planet News in front of his picture of the Queen. It was the favourite picture of Agency Manager , Leslie Hull , who hung it on the wall of his office. 30 December 1955




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