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A year on: The enduring legacy of the Coronation

Blog posted by: Ethen Mark Carlin, Senior Brand Manager, Government Communications Service, 09 May 2024.

A year has flown by since the magnificent Coronation that gripped the nation. As many of you may recall, I had the incredible privilege of leading the art direction and branding for this historic event.

The Coronation: A celebration of sovereignty

Coronations have been a cornerstone of British history since 1066. They represent not just the ascension of a new monarch, but a unique moment where the divine and the temporal intersect. For me, it marked the dawning of a new chapter for our nation, a chapter shaped by the unique personality and vision of its new sovereign.

Beyond the flags: Crafting a cohesive experience

My role went far beyond simply hanging a few flags. I meticulously crafted the entire aesthetic of the Coronation, drawing inspiration from Sir Jony Ive’s stunning floral emblem and the rich legacy of previous Coronations, particularly the 1953 ceremony designed by the legendary Sir Hugh Casson. From iconic street decorations to captivating social media graphics and dazzling digital displays, I strived to create a cohesive and celebratory atmosphere that resonated throughout London and the entire country.

A tapestry of national identity

One key element of this strategy was the incorporation of the UK’s four national flowers – the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the daffodil of Wales, and the shamrock of Northern Ireland – throughout the visual landscape. This subtle nod to the rich diversity and unity of the United Kingdom served as a powerful symbol of national pride and unity.

A lifelong passion for civic design

The opportunity to shape the Coronation wasn’t just a career highlight, it was the culmination of a lifelong fascination. Even during my studies at the prestigious UAL, London College of Communication, I was captivated by the power of statecraft – the ability of design to connect the state with its people. My journey has taken me from creating iconic commercial campaigns to shaping state symbols as familiar as the iconic police helmet.

Building on a legacy of service

While joining the Civil Service in 2018, the Coronation wasn’t my first brush with national events. I played a key role in the visual identity of COP26 and the Queen’s funeral, each requiring a unique creative approach.

The Coronation may have been a pinnacle achievement, a testament to the hard work of countless individuals and an honour to stand alongside the likes of Sir Hugh Casson. However, a different project brings me immense personal satisfaction. Even today, I find myself filled with pride when I come across images of my work for the Queen’s funeral, an event that resonated deeply with the nation and set a new standard for state funerals.

This experience has only strengthened my commitment to using my design skills to serve the public good, and I eagerly await the next opportunity to contribute to our nation’s story.

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