The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

A twist of fate leads to crown­ing glory The ab­di­ca­tion of her un­cle, King Ed­ward VIII, in 1936 to marry the woman he loved thrust 10-year-old Princess El­iz­a­beth into a new realm as the next in line to the throne af­ter her fa­ther, King Ge­orge VI, writes Ka


Her of­fi­cial ti­tle in Aus­tralia is El­iz­a­beth the Sec­ond, by the Grace of God Queen of Aus­tralia and Her other Realms and Ter­ri­to­ries, Head of the Com­mon­wealth. But back in May­fair, Lon­don, on April 21, 1926, at 2.40am she was born sim­ply Princess El­iz­a­beth Alexan­dra Mary Wind­sor.

She was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, and although she was third in line to the throne af­ter her un­cle and fa­ther, it was never ex­pected her fa­ther would be­come king, let alone she be­come queen.

Then in 1936, her grand­fa­ther King Ge­orge V died. Nine-year-old El­iz­a­beth’s un­cle was crowned King Ed­ward VIII, but af­ter months of un­cer­tainty, his reign ended when he ab­di­cated in De­cem­ber 1936 to marry the woman he loved, the scan­dalously twice-di­vorced Mrs Wal­lis Simp­son.

Sud­denly El­iz­a­beth was daugh­ter of a king and the next in line to in­herit the throne — her sim­plis­tic child­hood was abruptly over.

Princess El­iz­a­beth and her younger sis­ter Princess Mar­garet were taught at home with lessons lean­ing to­wards pre­par­ing El­iz­a­beth for her royal role. She learned con­sti­tu­tional history, law, art and mu­sic. She stud­ied French with gov­ernesses and re­li­gion with the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury. She en­joyed horse-rid­ing and swimming, and was a Girl Guide and Sea Ranger.

She was 13 and lit­tle sis­ter Mar­garet nine when World War II broke out. The sis­ters spent most of the war at Wind­sor Castle where the dun­geons made ex­cel­lent bunkers. Like other girls they had to save coupons for cloth­ing.

In 1945, El­iz­a­beth joined the Aux­il­iary Ter­ri­to­rial Ser­vice (ATS), learn­ing to change tyres and to drive heavy ve­hi­cles such as am­bu­lances, get­ting her hands dirty.

Af­ter the war, in 1947, Princess El­iz­a­beth be­came en­gaged to Lieu­tenant Philip Mount­bat­ten. They mar­ried on Novem­ber 20 that year at Westminste­r Abbey. It was a sim­ple af­fair, with the cake made from in­gre­di­ents supplied by Aus­tralian Girl Guides.

Prince Charles was born in 1948, and his sis­ter, Princess Anne, two years later.

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