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  • Writer's pictureDale Roberts

How the Queen's Coronation helped establish the Eurovision Song Contest

Credit: BBC

As the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and much of the world mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II, many are remembering the impact she had as a monarch.

And there is one event she was very much involved with that helped pave way for the Contest we have today.

In 1950 broadcasters from Western Europe came together to form the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to foster better international cooperation after World War II.

One goal of the EBU was to make programme content created in one nation to be available to broadcasters from other regions.

The sharing of broadcasting content was known as the "Eurovision" network, a name coined by journalist George Campey.

The Eurovision website states that Eurovision was a "technical system of media content interconnections initially across Europe, but later progressively linking to the world. It allowed content to be exchanged, seen and heard, as it happened or recorded for later use."

But now that the network was created, it needed content to actually share.

The EBU decided the focus should be on the universal themes of news, music and sport.

So where does Queen come in?

Well the first test broadcast of the Eurovision network was the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June 1953.

Credit: BBC

The Coronation was broadcast live in the United Kingdom as well as France, Belgium, The Netherlands and West Germany.

The success of this event showed that live broadcasts could be shared across Europe.

Further live events included the Narcissus Festival in Montreux, a tour of the Vatican, a Royal Navy parade passing of the Queen and live World Cup football matches from Switzerland in 1954.

The success of all these events led the EBU, and particularly Marcel Bezençon, to push for a live music competition similar to the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy that would be an "international competition, a spirit of friendly rivalry between writers and composers."

The first Eurovision would then take place in 1956 in Switzerland, where it was broadcast live in the seven competing nations (Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, France and Luxembourg) as well as Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Since then the Contest and the Eurovision network's coverage of news, music and sport has grown from strength to strength.

Although Queen Elizabeth II had no direct involvement, we pay homage to the role her Coronation being televised played in the development of the Song Contest we all know and love.

Find out more about the establishment of the Eurovision Song Contest on the Eurovision website.

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