I will copy here a very good description, written by Rosalind Mullen in June 2012 on the "Caterer and Hotelkeeper" website:
If the economic downturn is tarnishing your expectations of the Diamond Jubilee, think again, because post-war Britain didn't let a few privations get in the way of a good party.
Imagine the excitement back then. The Second World War had ended only eight years previously and Brits were still using ration books, but here was a beautiful young queen about to be crowned. Without doubt, Elizabeth II's coronation on 2 June 1953 was a chance to celebrate. And if the Savoy's archives are any indication, they certainly knew how to celebrate in style.
In fact, all the big hotels - Claridge's, Park Lane, Grosvenor House, Dorchester and the Cumberland threw dazzling dinners and balls. The Savoy Coronation Ball, however, was arguably the most high-profile and certainly one of the most expensive to attend at 12 guineas a head (about £262 today), compared with an average of seven guineas elsewhere.
Marketing the event, which was by invitation, was not an issue - in fact, the Savoy had a waiting list. It hosted 1,400 silk and diamond-encrusted guests, many of whom had been invited to the Westminster Abbey service earlier in the day. There were foreign royals, Hollywood stars, politicians, lords and ladies. State guests who attended the ball included the Rajah and Ranee of Faridkot, Prince and Princess Takeda of Japan and Sir Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia.
But the organisers were fairly blue-blooded, too - in the celebrity world, at least. The committee included actors John Mills, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, playwright Noel Coward and photographer Cecil Beaton. While Beaton and Leigh advised on the decor for the ball, Coward, Mills and Olivier offered their talents in the cabaret.
Outside, the Savoy was decorated with garlands, coloured balls, ribbons, flags and floodlights. The River entrance was sheltered with a canopy running the length of the building and was so successful it has evolved into the permanent porch there today.
Inside the hotel, every public room was used to create a New Elizabethan Era theme, inspired by the Tudor style of Elizabeth I. Society designer Cecil Beaton and Savoy heiress Bridget D'Oyly Carte colluded on lavish decorations that included huge white velvet curtains made to look like ermine using black felt "tails", which took two seamstresses two days to sew on. The Restaurant was transformed into a domed tent with 4,000 yards of pink, grey and turquoise fabric. There were historic standards lining the halls, 200 Prince of Wales ostrich feather plumes crowning the lights, 300 bay and camellia trees and 2.5 tons of box hedging... you get the picture. In all, it took 20 men 36 hours to assemble the decorations.
As guests arrived at 8.30pm, the staircase to the Restaurant was lined with some of the Beefeaters who had been at the Coronation ceremony earlier in the day. Under head chef August Laplanche, the menu (see page 30), included La Noisette d'Agneau Coronation, La Pomme Comtesse, while toasts were made with John Exshaw Grande Fine Champagne. No doubt the tasty puddings were all the better because of the bonus ration of 1lb of sugar and 4oz margarine given to all Britons by the Ministry of Food, to help them celebrate. Artist Abram Games - famous for designs for the Festival of Britain in 1951 - designed the Coronation coach that appeared on the menus, which were designed as parchment scrolls.
The cabaret was led at 12 midnight and again at 2am by stars such as Noel Coward and Maurice Chevalier, while at 1am the guests were showered with thousands of party favours, such as Elizabethan hats, ruffs, jester sticks and whistles.
And if it was all too much, hotel guests could slip up to their rooms, for which they had paid the princely sums of up to £7 and 7 shillings for a suite overlooking the river. (Some 60 years later, the Savoy is offering guests a special deal of two nights' accommodation and breakfast and a Diamond Jubilee dinner for two people at rates starting at £1,230).
Interestingly, a report in the Evening Standard back in 1953 observed that London hotel rates were being pushed up during the festivities. Miss Elaine Burton (Labour, Coventry South) told the House of Commons that an agency in the capital had stated the Grosvenor House charges were being doubled over a five-day period and Park Lane hotel charges "nearly" doubled... ring a bell?
In fact, it seems many of the problems that beset Londoners today also taxed the organisers of coronation after-parties. Planning for the Savoy Coronation Ball, for instance, included sending the illustrious guests a parking permit and a map to the hotel.
And in another quirky parallel, while big-screens have become a hotel staple to attract guests during events such as the wedding of William and Kate or the forthcoming Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, they were also installed at the Savoy so that the army of behind-the-scenes workers could watch the coronation while preparing for the evening's festivities.
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