Just a short one tonight, ladies and gents.
In honour of the Sapphire Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, I thought I would have a brief look back and share with you some moments from the early life leading up to the begining of the reign of the much loved monarch.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born on April 21st 1926 by Caesarian at the home of her mother’s father, Claude Bowes-Lyon, Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, in Mayfair. Later baptised in the Private chapel of Buckingham Palace, she was named for her mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Followed by a younger sister, Margaret, four years later, both girls were conceived using assisted methods.
From a very young age, Elizabeth was variously described as “responsible”, “authorative”, “sensible” and “reflective” by family members, her Nanny “Crawfie” and various dignitaries who had occasion to meet the little Princess, including Winston Churchill. Both girls were educated at home, in such subjects as History, languages, literature and music. From her youngest years, Elizabeth “Lilibet” to those close to her, was fond of horses and dogs. Elizabeth was particularly close to her Grandfather, King George V and was credited with aiding his recovery from a serious illness in 1929.
Elizabeth was not expected to become Queen; at her birth she was third in line to take the throne following her Uncle Edward, and her father. As Edward was young and as yet unmarried, it was anticipated that at some point he would become King, marry and produce heirs of his own. Elizabeth meanwhile faced the possibility of being “bumped” by any brothers her parents Albert, Duke of York and Elizabeth could provide her with. At the age of ten, her beloved grandfather died and Edward took the throne as Edward VIII, placing her second in line, only to abdicate later that same year, 1936, thus causing a constitutional crisis, before her father Albert took the throne to become George VI and placing the role of heir presumptive firmly on the young Princess’ shoulders. No sons were forthcoming.
War broke out in 1939, and the question was raised as to whether it was appropriate to evacuate Elizabeth and Margaret to Canada. Scores of other children were leaving the capital to safer areas in the country in anticipation of invasion or aerial attack. Queen Elizabeth put a quick end to the discussion by declaring “The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave without the King. And the King will never leave.” Instead they moved around the family homes at Balmoral and Sandringham, eventually settling in the relative quiet of Windsor where they spent much of the remainder of the war.
In 1940, Elizabeth made a radio broadcast to the children of the nation, urging them to be brave and to think of the gallant men fighting for them. She staged pantomimes to raise money for wool with which to knit garments for the troops. In 1942 at the age of 16, she was made Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, and the following year was elevated to acting Counsellor of State, by special act of Parliament, in the event that something were to happen to her father during his diplomatic visits and meetings pertaining to the war effort.
In February 1945, Elizabeth joined the Women’s Auxillary Territorial Service, in capacity as a mechanic and driver, in which she would would serve the remainder of the war, and where she was later given an honorary promotion to Junior Commander. As the end of the war was announced and the nation celebrated, Elizabeth and her sister, with the permission of their mother, went out into the streets and mingled with the public, linking arms with strangers as they walked along Whitehall. Neither were recognised.
In 1947, Princess Elizabeth accompanied her parents on her first overseas tour, to South Africa. It was here on her 21st birthday that she made an address to the British Commonwealth via BBC Radio, famously pledging “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
On 6th February 1952, following a period of ill-health, King George VI passed away. The news was broken to the new Queen Elizabeth II by her husband Prince Philip, whom she had married in November 1947 in their lodgings in Kenya where they were staying en route to a state visit of New Zealand and Australia. The couple returned quickly to Britain and moved from their home in Clarence House to Buckingham Palace. And so began the longest reign of a British monarch, and Queen of the British Commonwealth, in history.
God save the Queen.