Periscopes, mirrors on sticks, the shoulders of bystanders: onlookers utilized them all to catch a glimpse of the royal procession after the coronation of King George VI on May 12, 1937.
While most cameras were trained on the new monarch, it was the spectators lining the streets of London that fascinated Henri Cartier-Bresson, the pioneering French photographer who covered the event for the Communist newspaper Ce Soir. “Of all the solemnities of that historic day, it was above all the sight of the onlookers themselves that Cartier-Bresson immortalized,” writes the historian Clément Chéroux in a book released to coincide with the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday. “He did not photograph the king: he photographed people watching the king go by.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Other Coronation is out now from Thames & Hudson