Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: How events unfolded on the day Princess Elizabeth ascended the throne 70 years ago | UK News

Princess Elizabeth was on a trip to Kenya when she ascended the throne exactly 70 years ago.

At 25, the Princess had replaced her father George VI on a long-planned international tour that would also reach Australia and New Zealand, accompanied by her husband of five years, Prince Philip.

The 56-year-old king was thousands of miles away in Sandringham after being too ill with lung cancer to travel.

The couple had been enjoying a brief respite from their royal duties by relaxing at a game viewing pavilion, the Treetops Hotel, in the heart of Kenya, when their lives changed forever.

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Princess Elizabeth was staying at the Treetops Hotel in Kenya at the time of her father’s death

How did Princess Elizabeth find out she had become queen?

February 5, Elizabeth had spent the day filming elephants at a nearby waterhole before spending the night in a treehouse with the Duke of Edinburgh.

It was there, in her sleep, that she unknowingly became queen after her father passed away on February 6, 1952.

But she was not informed until the next afternoon after returning to a fishing lodge called Sagana, 20 miles away, that she had been given as a wedding gift.

The couple flew from Heathrow to Kenya on January 31 and were accompanied by the King himself, who said goodbye to them as he stood in the freezing cold.

Upon arrival in Kenya, they traveled around the country to Sagana before heading to Treetops after lunch on February 5.

Pubs could stay open until the early hours to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh pause on the rustic deck in the grounds of the Royal Lodge, Sagana, their wedding present from the people of Kenya.
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Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh take a break on the rustic deck in the grounds of the Royal Lodge, Sagana

Due to their remote location, in the game’s now famous observation pavilion, news of the king’s death took some time to reach the royal party.

Royal historian Dr Ed Owens notes that the official announcement of the King’s death came from Sandringham on the morning of February 6, 1952.

The BBC then carried the news that the king had died in his sleep and had been found that morning by a servant.

It first came to a senior courtier, who passed it on to the Princess’ private secretary, Martin Charteris, who then telephoned Prince Philip’s aide.

Princess Elizabeth meets members of the Nyeri Polo Club with the Duke of Edinburgh, shortly before the death of her father, King George VI.
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Princess Elizabeth meets members of the Nyeri Polo Club with Prince Philip, shortly before the death of her father George VI

Prince Philip broke the news to her next to a trout stream in the foothills of Mount Kenya around 2.45pm on February 6 and informed her that she was now Queen and Head of the Commonwealth.

“Elizabeth didn’t get the news immediately,” confirms Dr. Owens.

“Instead, his private secretary was asked by a local newspaper editor whether the reports of the king’s death were true or not. The private secretary then contacted Philip who told his wife that she was now queen.”

Photo: AP
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The royal couple pictured arriving at Nairobi National Park to begin a driving tour on February 2, 1952

“Accept your destiny”

Elizabeth is said to have reacted to the news with the same sense of duty she has become synonymous with, putting aside her grief to write letters apologizing for canceling the rest of the tour.

Arrangements were then made for her to return home immediately.

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said the Queen’s response to the news “was an acceptance of her fate, as shown by the fact that she instantly knew what her name would be, responding when asked: ‘My own name, of course – what else “.”

Photo: AP
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Princess Elizabeth on her 21st birthday. Photo: AP

He added: “She is a deeply religious person and as daunting as becoming queen at 25, she had already made a lifelong commitment to service at 21.

“She must have mourned deeply for her father to whom she was devoted, but to the world she appeared calm.”

Mr Fitzwilliams said Prince Philip was known to be “totally devastated by the news” of his father-in-law’s death.

King’s death ‘shocks’ nation

Elizabeth had carried out more and more of her father’s engagements towards the end of her life, such as greeting foreign dignitaries and riding in his place for the Trooping the Colour.

After news of the king’s death was announced on a cold, damp day in February, his body was brought from Sandringham to London to be displayed for three days in Westminster Hall.

George VI was brought to London from Sandringham to lie in state at Westminster Hall until his funeral
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George VI was brought to London from Sandringham to lie in state at Westminster Hall until his funeral

George VI was then buried in St George’s Chapel in Windsor on February 15, with some 300,000 people marching to pay their respects.

His funeral procession was also televised, which sparked the first major wave of television sales, although the funeral service was only broadcast by sound.

Serious faces on the lunchtime crowds reflect the tragic news of the death of King George VI, in Ludgate Circus, London
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Serious faces on the lunchtime crowds reflect the tragic news of the death of King George VI, in Ludgate Circus, London

Mr Fitzwilliams said the seriousness of the King’s condition ‘was covered up by his doctors and the news stunned Britain’.

“It was, as Churchill said, ‘the worst’. It was also totally unexpected, as it was thought he was improving and had fired the day before,” he added.

King George VI, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret leaving the Theater Royal in Drury Lane, six days before her death
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King George VI, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret leaving the Theater Royal in Drury Lane, six days before her death

Excitement about a “fairytale” queen

Dr Owens said the British public was “shocked and saddened by the King’s passing”.

“He was only 56, so the news came as a surprise,” he said, but added that there was also “a lot of excitement about the young girl’s accession to the throne. ‘fairy tale’ queen”.

Queen Elizabeth II during her coronation at Westminster Abbey
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Queen Elizabeth II during her coronation at Westminster Abbey

“While the reign of George VI had been overshadowed by abdication, war and austerity, the reign of Elizabeth II seemed to promise that better times were ahead for the monarchy and the country,” he said. he declares.

The Queen’s coronation took place a year later, on June 2, 1953, in keeping with the tradition of allowing an appropriate amount of time to pass after a monarch’s death before holding such feasts.

The scene after the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey, showing the Queen wearing St Edward's crown and carrying the scepter and rod.
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The Queen wears St Edward’s Crown and carries the scepter and staff at her coronation

But Mr Fitzwilliams points out that it is rumored, as well as The Crown series, that Winston Churchill postponed the coronation because he wanted to ‘hang on as Prime Minister’.

Nevertheless, it was the first event of its kind to be televised, an idea of ​​Prince Philip, and seen by the people.

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