7 NOVEMBER 1958, Page 6

THE CORONATION of the new Pope was seen on television

by at least ten million people, I under- stand. I wonder how many of them shared my feeling that there was a striking contrast between the restrained, measured prose in which Mr. Richard Dimbleby and Father Agnellus Andrews described the significance of the ceremony and the relaxed and chatty confusion which was actually pictured on the screen, especially in the close-ups? We are continually being told that the Latin countries have a much more natural talent for ritual and display than the embarrassed and self-conscious British. But the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth (though perhaps not the Coro- nation of her father) was a masterpiece of plan- ning and organisation. On the screen, the Coro- nation of Pope John XXIII was full of minor hitches, voluble arguments and false starts. There was one papal official, never identified as far as I could hear by the commentators, who spent the whole ceremony endlessly whispering into ears and nudging ribs. Just before the Coronation he had a discussion with the two Cardinals flank- ing the Pope, apparently about the right time at which they should remove and then replace their mitres. For a few moments one of them seemed to have accepted his advice while the other con- tinued to refuse. I was also surprised, remember- ing the rigid control of the press and television in Westminster Abbey, by the burly man in morning dress, bearing a strong likeness to Mussolini, who stood imperturbably a foot from the Pope's right ear taking photographs through- out the actual crowning and waving away minor ecclesiastics who obstructed his view. This is the sort of detail I would have liked to have explained to me by the commentators, but perhaps they did not have such a good view, or perhaps such a good set, as I had.