By Lauren Edwards
As we put up our Union Jack bunting and assemble the wallpaper paste tables in our street this week, I would like to give you an insight into our reigning Monarch as we celebrate her 70 years on the throne.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair on the 21st April 1926 to her parents the Duke and Duchess of York – who later would become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother). The newly born Princess was never expected to reach the throne but when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936, her father was crowned King and she became next in line to the throne.
“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.”
In 1930, Princess Margaret Rose was born and the family of four moved to the Royal Lodge in Windsor. As the Second World War broke out in 1939, it was suggested that the Queen and her daughters should evacuate to either North America or Canada for their safety. The Queen’s response was: “The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave the King. And the King will never leave.”
In September 1940, a bomb fell within the grounds of Buckingham Palace but didn’t explode. The King and Queen were in residence at the palace at the time and described hearing a rumble and a crash whilst drinking their tea. The family then moved to the safety of Windsor Castle for the remainder of the war.
Both princesses were educated at home. However, Elizabeth’s education was more advanced than Margaret’s, in preparation for her future role, she was even taught religious studies by the Archbishop of Canterbury! Elizabeth learned to speak French fluently, studied history and law, art, and music and in her down time she learned to ride horses and become a strong swimmer.
Princess Elizabeth met Prince Philip at a family wedding and they were married in 1947 at Westminster Abbey. It was considered a modest affair for a royal wedding, as the country recovered from war with rationing still in place. It was reported that Elizabeth used clothing vouchers to purchase her wedding dress. However, it was estimated that it took 350 women seven weeks to make her dress and that the government granted the bride 200 extra clothing vouchers to cover the cost. As newlyweds, the couple first lived in Malta where Prince Philip was an officer in the Mediterranean Fleet.
“My husband has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years, and I owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim.”
In 1952, King George VI was in poor health and asked Elizabeth and Philip to take over his duties on a Commonwealth tour. On the 6th February 1952, whilst staying in Kenya, Elizabeth received the news that her father had died and that she was now duty bound to take over the throne and she was to be known as Queen Elizabeth II.
During her 70-year reign, the Queen has been served by 14 UK Prime Ministers including Winston Churchill, on his second term as Prime Minister. Each year she hosts an average of 50,000 people at functions held within Buckingham Palace. However, it’s not all banquets and parties. Anyone who has watched the Netflix drama The Crown will have seen the Queen open her red box of official papers each morning which she has to read, approve and sign.
Her Majesty is responsible for signing off on any proposed bill for Parliament with a ‘royal assent’ before it becomes legal. Each evening she receives a report of the day’s parliamentary proceedings to read through and every Wednesday at 6.30pm she will meet with the Prime Minister for a private discussion.
The Queen and Prince Philip were married for a staggering 73 years. He sadly passed away last year at the ripe old age of 99. Together they have four children, eight grandchildren and currently twelve great-grandchildren.
“Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters and of family disagreements.”