As the world watched the first British coronation in 70 years, Vodafone played a crucial role behind the scenes which shows just how dramatically TV and broadcasting tech has changed across the decades.
It goes without saying that the world has changed in almost every way in the 70 years between Queen Elizabeth II ascending the throne in 1953 and the crowning of King Charles III in 2023. Especially so in the world of TV and broadcasting – and we don’t just mean colour footage consigning black and white TV to the history books.
Broadcasting and delivery
Her Late Majesty’s coronation was the first to be televised from beginning to end, with cameras allowed inside London’s Westminster Abbey during the ceremony for the first time. While it was broadcast live across the UK and parts of Western Europe, it just wasn’t possible to do this globally. The first live satellite broadcast was still a decade away, while the subsea cables of the time could only handle the likes of telegrams which are text-only.
The reels of footage were instead delivered to Canada, Australia and beyond by plane – both propeller-driven and jet-powered, with the latter also a glamorous, cutting-edge technology of the time. Canadians were then able to watch the coronation a day after it took place, while Australians had to wait almost 54 hours.
King Charles III’s coronation was broadcast live across the globe, effortlessly. For news broadcaster ITN, the first step of that journey began over Vodafone’s 5G Standalone network in the capital.
Using a technology called network slicing, a discrete part of the network was customised for, and dedicated to, ITN’s needs, all without impacting the mobile data experience for the general public. Having your own dedicated slice of the network guarantees performance and security.
From there, it was carried to the rest of the world by deep sea underwater cables and satellite.
The 1953 coronation was filmed using Pye Mark III cameras. Weighing in at an elephantine 61kg each, moving them in and out of Westminster Abbey was a cumbersome headache – and that was without the tripod which added on an extra half kilo. It’s all a far cry from today’s broadcast-quality cameras, which are light enough to be carried easily on a camera operator’s shoulder.