BY ROYAL COMMAND
ELIZABETH HAS BEEN OUR CONSTANT COMPANION SINCE OUR VERY FIRST DAYS
The Queen has been a mainstay of our coverage throughout the decades
History, by its nature, is littered with “what ifs”. What if Hitler never came to be? What if Captain James Cook never sailed to Aotearoa? What if women never achieved suffrage?
And what if Edward VIII hadn’t abdicated?
It’s a question the Queen has surely asked herself many a time. When the Weekly was born at the end of 1932, six-year-old Princess Elizabeth had no idea of her destiny.
Third-in-line to the throne, “Lilibet” should have never become queen. Her uncle David, the Prince of Wales, was heir to King George V and being in his prime, was expected to bear children and heirs himself.
Four years later, when his father died, David, the new
King Edward VIII, caused one of the royal family’s biggest scandals, abdicating from the throne so he could marry his lover, American divorcée Wallis Simpson.
In that instant, as her beloved father Bertie became King George VI, Elizabeth’s life changed forever. An easier life, a more private but still privileged existence vanished, and she knew one day she would be queen, burdened but anointed with responsibility, duty and rule.
From the very beginning of the Weekly, we were entranced by the vivacious princess, reporting excitedly on her childhood and teenage years, as she and her sister Margaret grew up under the harsh spotlight of monarchy during World War II.
Stories of the young princess joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service were enthusiastically typed, and reports of how Elizabeth and Margaret danced and celebrated anonymously outside Buckingham Palace gates on VE Day enthralled a joyous nation.
Of course, her marriage to Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was one of the biggest stories of the ‘40s, not just due to the spectacle of the royal wedding. Considered by some as wholly unsuitable – “a prince without a home or kingdom” as some sniffed at the time – the union wasn’t without its challenges.
However, love prevailed and the two were married at Westminster Abbey on November 14, 1947. They will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary next month.
The dazzling princess personified post-war optimism as she stepped out in her tulle, chiffon and silk gown, which was customdesigned by Norman Hartnell.
As rationing was still in force, Elizabeth needed coupons to buy the fabric, though wellmeaning women from across Britain sent the princess theirs.
The day Queen Elizabeth II was crowned – June 2, 1952 – saw the birth of a new, modern royal family, full of youth, hope and glory.
Giving birth to four children – Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward – the Queen and Prince Philip’s picture-perfect life was cemented, and Britain and the Commonwealth continued its fascination and admiration of the royals.
There have been tough times – most notably her self-dubbed “annus horribilis” of 1992, when both Anne and Andrew announced the end of their respective marriages, Charles and Diana formally separated, a fire ravaged Windsor Castle and public sentiment was steadily rising against the monarchy.
And, of course, there was the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 and the resulting fallout.
But the Queen and her family endured. Now 91, she is slowing down, but her legacy – her record-breaking reign, her devotion to her role, her descendants – is assured.
History is littered with what ifs. But Her Majesty has been a constant – from the adorable, carefree six-year-old who first adorned these pages, to the world’s longest-serving monarch whose unflappable, dedicated and refined rule harks back to the many other great Queens of England.
When she turned 21, knowing the weight of the crown and the monarchy would one day fall upon her, she declared before her subjects “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 our 85 years, she has seen war, depression, triumph, tragedy and an incredible amount of change.
She has conducted more than 260 overseas tours and more official engagements than are possible to count – and she’s had an incredible 18 different prime ministers of New Zealand.
When it comes to the Queen, there’s no what ifs – indeed, we wonder what we’ll do without her.
In 1932, six-year- old Princess Elizabeth had no idea what the future had in store for her. A pensive-looking princess at Windsor Castle in 1940. Pomp and pageantry were on display at Elizabeth’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey. A youthful Queen and Prince Philip on tour in New Zealand in 1974.
All smiles from Anne, Charles,
Edward, Andrew, the Queen and
Prince Philip holiday in Balmoral
on in 1971. The Queen ‘s record-breaking reign ensures her legacy will remain long after she is gone. A portrait of the Queen in 1947, shortly before she married her beloved Prince Philip.