#UK DOMINIC SANDBROOK charts how Queen Elizabeth II's reign moulded our country #UKnews

#UK DOMINIC SANDBROOK charts how Queen Elizabeth II’s reign moulded our country #UKnews

#UK DOMINIC SANDBROOK charts how Queen Elizabeth II’s reign moulded our country #UKnews

By the top of World War II, Princess Elizabeth was 19. With her chain-smoking father unwell, it was little marvel that, greater than ever, individuals now appeared on her as a monarch-in-waiting.

And it was hardly shocking, both, that gossip targeted on the id of her future husband. With her attractiveness — not to mention her pedigree and prospects — Elizabeth was an apparent catch. But as a critical, barely indifferent lady, she had by no means gone in for the type of teenage flirtations for which her youthful sister turned well-known.

Only one man ever caught her eye. He was the tall, good-looking Philip of Greece, 5 years her senior, whose household had been banished from the war-torn Mediterranean country when he was a toddler. For a lot of his life, Philip had been a royal exile, drifting from one European non-public faculty to a different.

But though most of his ancestors have been German, he had a number of familial connections to the British Royal Family and had frolicked at colleges in England and Scotland.

In the warfare, he had served within the Royal Navy, seeing motion within the Mediterranean and the Pacific.

DOMINIC SANDBROOK: By the end of World War II, Princess Elizabeth was 19. With her chain-smoking father in poor health, it was little wonder that, more than ever, people now looked on her as a monarch-in-waiting

DOMINIC SANDBROOK: By the top of World War II, Princess Elizabeth was 19. With her chain-smoking father unwell, it was little marvel that, greater than ever, individuals now appeared on her as a monarch-in-waiting

Some courtiers disapproved of his turbulent background, direct method and modernising ethos; there have been snobbish murmurs that he was ‘not a gentleman’.

But as Philip had the backing of Elizabeth’s influential cousin Louis Mountbatten — who was additionally his uncle — the momentum behind the union turned unstoppable.

In the summer season of 1946, Philip requested George VI for his daughter’s hand — and the monarch agreed, supplied that they waited till she turned 21 the next yr.

In the meantime, Elizabeth made her first international tour, visiting South Africa.

There, on her twenty first birthday, she gave a memorable radio handle to the Empire, promising her future individuals ‘that my complete life, whether or not or not it’s lengthy or quick, shall be dedicated to your service’. It appeared like the usual political rhetoric. In truth, it got here from the center and, as occasions have been to show, Elizabeth meant each phrase.

She returned dwelling to a buzz of pleasure. Her wedding ceremony was scheduled for November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey and, though the climate was bitterly chilly, the day was a triumphant success.

Visiting Ghana in 1961, she was photographed dancing cheerfully with President Kwame Nkrumah, a fierce critic of Western imperialism

Visiting Ghana in 1961, she was photographed dancing cheerfully with President Kwame Nkrumah, a fierce critic of Western imperialism

Post-war austerity meant that it was much less lavish than earlier royal weddings. Even so, Elizabeth wore a Norman Hartnell costume of clinging ivory silk embellished with tiny pearls, whereas there have been no fewer than 11 muffins, with the largest standing 9ft excessive.

The couple honeymooned in Hampshire and Balmoral, and within the first months of 1948, Elizabeth turned pregnant.

To lots of Buckingham Palace’s outdated guard, her husband appeared disturbingly trendy. Breezily illiberal of cant or humbug, Philip had little time for most of the drained rituals of royal protocol.

Later, the Press seized on his irreverent remarks on international excursions, although his hosts nearly invariably noticed the humorous facet.

Yet Philip’s contribution to his spouse’s success is past doubt. He was her companion, her important supporter and her confidant — her consort in each sense.

Like most males of his era, although, he drew the road at some issues. When Elizabeth went into labour in November 1948, her husband went off to play squash on the Buckingham Palace courtroom.

On the big day, some 27 million people watched at least several hours of the BBC's reverential black-and-white coverage. It was a national spectacle like no other. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey during her coronation

On the large day, some 27 million individuals watched a minimum of a number of hours of the BBC’s reverential black-and-white protection. It was a nationwide spectacle like no different. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey throughout her coronation

Only when she had been delivered of a son — Charles — was Philip summoned to congratulate his spouse and check out his inheritor.

For the following two years, the little household spent a lot of their time in Malta, the place Philip was serving as a naval officer. In August 1950, Charles was joined by just a little sister, Anne.

But as George VI’s well being continued to say no, Elizabeth should have realised that her accession was quickly approaching.

In September 1951, her father was identified with lung most cancers. Elizabeth dutifully agreed to tour Canada and the U.S. on his behalf, and President Truman hailed her as a ‘fairy princess’.

In the New Year she left on one other tour, heading first to East Africa. In Kenya she and her husband stayed at Treetops lodge, constructed within the branches of a fig tree, the place she spent the night watching baboons and rhinoceroses.

Only one man ever caught her eye. He was the tall, handsome Philip of Greece, five years her senior

Only one man ever caught her eye. He was the tall, good-looking Philip of Greece, 5 years her senior

The subsequent day, on February 6, Elizabeth left for the Sagana royal lodge, within the foothills of Mount Kenya. It was there, shortly after lunch, that considered one of her celebration, Mike Parker, switched on the radio and heard the information from London.

George VI had died in his sleep. At the age of simply 25, Elizabeth was Queen. Although she by no means spoke of the second when she discovered, it should have been a horrible shock. In that on the spot, not solely did she lose her father, she additionally assumed a accountability of awe-inspiring proportions.

What astonished many individuals, although, was her unflappable self-possession. ‘I’m so sorry, we have got to return,’ she stated to her officers. ‘I’ve ruined all people’s journey.’

They flew again to London in silence. Every on occasion Elizabeth left her seat, and a few of her officers thought she had been crying.

Waiting on the Tarmac have been probably the most highly effective males within the land, together with the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in addition to the Labour chief, Clement Attlee.

Churchill, who was besotted with his new sovereign, told a friend: 'All the film people in the world, if they had scoured the globe, could not have found anyone so suited to the part'

Churchill, who was besotted together with his new sovereign, advised a pal: ‘All the movie individuals on this planet, if they’d scoured the globe, couldn’t have discovered anybody so suited to the half’

That evening, addressing the nation, Churchill appeared ahead to a brand new Elizabethan Age. ‘Famous have been the reigns of our Queens,’ he stated grandly. ‘Some of the best intervals in our historical past have unfolded beneath their sceptre.’ His phrases set the tone for the beginning of Elizabeth II’s reign.

Across the world, hundreds of thousands have been fascinated by footage of the solemn younger Queen.

Churchill, who was besotted together with his new sovereign, advised a pal: ‘All the movie individuals on this planet, if they’d scoured the globe, couldn’t have discovered anybody so suited to the half.’

After years of greyness, deprivation and austerity, Britain’s new Queen appeared to symbolise a greater, brighter future.

Commentators talked of a brand new Elizabethan Age, an age of technological innovation and a cultural renaissance.

At Elizabeth’s coronation on June 2, 1953, hundreds of thousands lined the streets of London, cheering and waving their flags regardless of the pouring rain.

Even extra considerably —particularly for the long-term way forward for the monarchy — the gross sales of recent tv units doubled within the month earlier than the coronation.

On the large day, some 27 million individuals watched a minimum of a number of hours of the BBC’s reverential black-and-white protection. It was a nationwide spectacle like no different. Perhaps no public occasion in British historical past ever captured the favored creativeness just like the coronation. Sales of flags, banners and memorabilia went by the roof.

The day even gave the country a brand new nationwide dish — coronation rooster, an Anglo-Indian recipe invented particularly for the Palace banquet by the meals author Constance Spry and the chef Rosemary Hume.

For Elizabeth, nonetheless, the coronation was a deeply private and religious expertise. All her life she had been, and would stay, a dedicated Christian.

At Elizabeth's coronation on June 2, 1953, millions lined the streets of London, cheering and waving their flags despite the pouring rain. The Queen is photographed on June 2, 1953 smiling after her Coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London

At Elizabeth’s coronation on June 2, 1953, hundreds of thousands lined the streets of London, cheering and waving their flags regardless of the pouring rain. The Queen is photographed on June 2, 1953 smiling after her Coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London

To this critical younger girl, the second when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, anointed her with oil and positioned the crown on her head was the second she devoted herself, physique and soul, to the service of her individuals.

In the primary years of her reign, it appeared that Elizabeth and her household may do no mistaken. In 1953 and 1954, she toured the world for six months, changing into the primary reigning British monarch to go to Australia and New Zealand.

It was on this tour that observers first seen what courtiers known as the ‘smiling drawback’.

No public determine in historical past had been anticipated to wave and make small speak to so many hundreds of individuals. And although, to her immense credit score, Elizabeth by no means put a foot mistaken in public, even she discovered the expertise wearying.

Indeed, typically crowds famous that she appeared just a little downbeat, particularly on the finish of the day.

‘It’s terrible,’ the Queen stated. ‘I’ve acquired the type of face that if I’m not smiling, I look cross. But I’m not cross.

‘If you attempt to smile for 2 hours repeatedly it provides you a nervous tic. But the second I cease smiling, any individual will see me and say ‘Doesn’t she look cross?’ ‘

After getting back from her tour, she welcomed a brand new Prime Minister — Anthony Eden, who changed Churchill — and grappled with a thorny household dilemma.

Elizabeth’s flighty little sister Margaret had fallen in love with Group Captain Peter Townsend, a embellished RAF officer who was already divorced with two sons.

Many outdated Palace palms argued that it could be unconscionable for the monarch’s sister to marry a divorcee — which might imply marrying outdoors the Church of England.

The shadow of the accession, which had solid such a blight over Elizabeth’s mother and father’ lives, appeared to have returned.

When the Press acquired maintain of the story, the hypothesis turned insufferable. At final, in October 1955, Margaret determined to surrender her dashing Captain.

Queen Elizabeth II and Philip wave from the balcony to the crowds at Buckingham Palace after the Coronation in June 1953

Queen Elizabeth II and Philip wave from the balcony to the crowds at Buckingham Palace after the Coronation in June 1953

Although she later married the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, the liaison was not successful, and her more and more erratic behaviour would grow to be a substantial embarrassment to the Palace.

It was an indication, although, of the brand new pressures of mass media and the cult of celeb, which might solely develop as Elizabeth’s reign continued.

The magic of monarchy lay in its paradoxical mixture of remoteness and accessibility. But with the beginning of tv and the emergence of a much less deferential media tradition, this is able to grow to be a more durable trick to tug off.

For the time being, Elizabeth appeared to have come by the disaster unscathed. But the episode was an indication of the conservative ambiance on the Palace, which frequently infuriated Philip, who noticed himself as a moderniser.

‘What am I doing right here?’ he would typically exclaim to buddies after some new snub by the older courtiers. ‘Why am I right here?’

It was Philip, for instance, who argued for Charles and Anne to go to highschool. At the time this was seen as a startlingly forward-thinking transfer, although the faculties involved — Cheam and Gordonstoun for Charles and Benenden for Anne — have been hardly the type of institutions frequented by most unusual girls and boys.

Contrary to the caricatures, although, Elizabeth and Philip have been devoted mother and father. A pal advised one of many Queen’s biographers, the historian Ben Pimlott: ‘At Balmoral, they have been a really regular, unusual, country-loving couple with two young children.’

And regardless of their elevated standing, Elizabeth and her husband did handle to have some semblance of an unusual life.

During these first years of her reign, they might even slip out to the cinema typically, all the time arriving simply because the lights went down.

On one memorable event, they discovered themselves sitting behind a delegation of visiting Russian miners, who may barely consider their eyes when the interval arrived, the ice-cream sellers got here out and the lights went up.

Yet the occasions have been altering. The Empire, which individuals of Elizabeth’s era had as soon as taken without any consideration, was breaking apart.

In 1956, Eden’s gamble to revive British status by recapturing the Suez Canal was a catastrophe and, when he resigned, the Queen successfully surrendered her royal prerogative to select his successor, meekly accepting the Tory grandees’ advice of Harold Macmillan.

Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh during their honeymoon in Malta in 1947

Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh throughout their honeymoon in Malta in 1947

Both her father and grandfather had been males with brazenly Tory opinions. But Elizabeth was cautious to provide nothing away.

Some critics have been starting to chafe on the Palace’s institutional conservatism.

The journalist Malcolm Muggeridge warned in 1955 that many individuals felt that ‘the entire present is completely out of hand’. And two years later, the historian John Grigg provoked controversy when he wrote that the Queen’s speechwriters made her sound like a ‘priggish schoolgirl’ and a ‘ache within the neck’.

For the time being, although, Elizabeth basked in in style approval. In 1957 she gave her first televised Christmas broadcast, and her accent was noticeably extra clipped in these early days than it later turned.

Abroad she was a star. The Americans, particularly, liked her, and she or he reciprocated their affection. In 1960, whereas awaiting the beginning of her third youngster, Andrew, she amused herself by sending President Eisenhower a recipe for drop scones.

By now her dedication to the newly unbiased nations of the Commonwealth, in addition to her lack of the slightest racial prejudice, was already obvious.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, declared that Britain was lucky to have 'around the throne a Christian family united, happy and setting to all an example of what the words 'home and family' most truly mean'. Pictured: The Queen, Prince Philip and their children in 1960

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, declared that Britain was fortunate to have ‘across the throne a Christian household united, comfortable and setting to all an instance of what the phrases ‘dwelling and household’ most actually imply’. Pictured: The Queen, Prince Philip and their kids in 1960

Visiting Ghana in 1961, she was photographed dancing cheerfully with President Kwame Nkrumah, a fierce critic of Western imperialism.

In apartheid South Africa, which had withdrawn from the Commonwealth, newspapers have been horrified to see ‘the honoured head of the as soon as mighty British Empire dancing with the black natives of pagan Africa’.

In the long term, although, moments like this did the Queen’s picture super good. Even although most of her topics have been largely detached, she manifestly liked the worldwide household of the Commonwealth and took it enormously significantly.

Her circle of relatives, in the meantime, continued to increase. In 1964 she had a fourth youngster, Edward. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, declared that Britain was fortunate to have ‘across the throne a Christian household united, comfortable and setting to all an instance of what the phrases ‘dwelling and household’ most actually imply’.

But the occasions have been altering. In the heady local weather of the Sixties, many individuals would come to query the values of dwelling and household — in addition to Christianity itself.

And because the tradition of deference receded, not even the monarchy itself can be protected from criticism.

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