Local Seniors Remember the Queen

On the day of Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1952,  Etta Blackstone  was living in central London with her family.  "My parents and I stood along the procession route from Westminster Abby to Buckingham Palace,” she said. “I will never forget that day.  It was magical and I was in awe."  

Blackstone, who is 83, now lives in Great Falls with her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. "The only images of that day are in black in white, but the photos can’t capture the elaborate pageantry of the day.”.   

Blackstone has long admired the British royal family.  "My mother received her telegram from the Queen marking her 100th birthday, she said. “It was as if, in a small way, our family was linked to her family." 

Each Christmas day when the Queen delivered her annual address Blackstone made sure to find and watch it, "I would be engrossed in her message," she said.  "I've always loved the royal family and I tried to pass it along to my children. I remember waking them up at 5 a.m. to watch Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding and then again, sadly to watch Diana's funeral." 


IT WAS JULY of 1958 in Leeds, England that 5-year-old Avery Jones, his parents and two sisters stood in a crowd of thousands for a chance to get a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth as her motorcade made its way down a street filled with spectators.  

“My mother and I were at the front of the crowd, and I got a great view of the Queen and Prince Phillip. It was so emotional.  I remember seeing my mother dabbing tears from her eyes.” 

—  Gladiola Hanson, 84 

"She was smiling and waving from the back seat of the car, said Jones, who is 70 and lives in Falls Church. “At the time, I didn't appreciate the magnitude of what was happening. I was just angry that my parents piled us into our car and made us wait for hours in crowd for a chance to see 30 seconds of a woman waving from the backseat of car." 

Jones says that his dad took photos of the procession. “I’m not a sentimental person, so I was never interested in keeping the pictures,” he said. “The day that the queen passed away, my grandchildren asked me if I’d ever seen her in person. I wish that I had at least one of the pictures to show them.” 


ORIGINALLY from Kingston, Jamaica, Gladiola Hanson now makes her home in Arlington. She recalls the Queen's visit to her country in 1966.   

“My mother and I were at the front of the crowd and I got a great view of the Queen and Prince Phillip,” she said. “They stood in the open top of their car and waved to the crowd,” she said. “There was so much excitement. It was so emotional. I remember seeing my mother dabbing tears from her eyes.” 

While Hanson holds the royal family in high regard, she acknowledges the controversy surrounding the monarchy. 

“My granddaughters were born in Virginia and they have a different view of the royal family,” she said. "They can be critical of the monarchy and its history with its colonies. When I was growing up, we were taught to always admire and respect Her Majesty.”