QUEEN AT 90: WHAT ELSE WAS HITTING THE HEADLINES IN 1926
As Britain celebrates the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, MARION MCMULLEN looks at the other news making the headlines in 1926
FEATURE PAGE 20
THE world was a very different place when Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born.
The future Queen of England was born by caesarean section at 17 Bruton Street in London at 2.04am on April 21, 1926.
Royal doctors described the procedure at the time as ‘a certain line of treatment’ while grandmother Queen Mary described the new royal baby as ‘a little darling with a lovely complexion’.
Home Secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks waited in a nearby room throughout the labour.
The custom, which no longer exists, was to make sure the new arrival was a genuine royal descendant and not an imposter who had been smuggled in.
The population of the UK at the time was 45 million – it is now more than 64 million – and a pint of milk would have cost you 1p, a loaf of bread 2p and a dozen eggs 11p.
The new royal baby was just a few days old when the country’s first and only General Strike took place.
Britain’s miners walked out over attempts by pit owners to increase their working hours, but reduce their wages.
Other industries like transport workers, dockers, electricity, steel and chemical workers joined them in a move of solidarity.
There were estimated to be more than a million on strike on the first full day of action on May 4.
King George V was said to have sympathised with the miners telling one coal owner: “Try living on their wages before you judge them.”
The General Strike lasted nine days and brought the country to a virtual standstill as the transport network was crippled, printing presses halted and food deliveries held up.
The Army escorted food lorries while volunteers got some buses back on the roads and trains running, but there were clashes between police and strikers.
Norma Jeane Mortenson, better known as Hollywood film star Marilyn Monroe was also born in 1926 .
And there was a mass outpouring of grief from fans when Italian-born screen heart-throb Rudolph Valentino suddenly died at the age of 31 from a perforated ulcer.
Alfred Hitchcock directed his first British film, The Lodger, with Ivor Novello in the title role.
The silent movie also marked the first of Hitchcock’s famous cameo appearances in his own films.
Controversial entertainer Mae West was arrested in New York for lewdness and ‘corrupting the morals of youth’ with her bawdy stage play Sex about a Montreal prostitute.
The actress and scriptwriter once said: “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.”
Crime writer Agatha Christie became the centre of her own mystery when she vanished for 11 days and a countrywide manhunt was launched.
She was finally found at a hotel in Harrogate saying she was suffering amnesia and had no idea what had happened during the missing days.
Red telephone boxes designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott began to appear for the first time, Winnie The Pooh by AA Milne was published and the first Laurel and Hardy film short was released, called Putting Pants On Philip.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old American swimmer Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to successfully swim the English Channel from France to England and set a new world record of 14 hours and 31 minutes.
British pilot Alan Cobham also travelled 26,700 miles around the world in 93 days.
He ended his journey by landing his seaplane on the River Thames in front of the Houses Of Parliament.
It was the Jazz Age and the Royal Albert Hall in London hosted a Charleston Ball and competition until 5 am, with Hollywood’s Fred Astaire as one of the judges.
The year saw Scottish inventor John Logie Baird demonstrate a pictoraltransmission he called a ‘television’ to members of the Royal Institution. His first programme showed the heads of two ventriloquist dummies and the TV screen measured just 2ins long by one-anda- half inches wide.
Princess Elizabeth herself made her first radio broadcast when she was 14 in 1940 during the BBC’s Children’s Hour.
It is reckoned there are approximately 500,000 people aged 90 and over like the Queen who are living in the UK today and Elizabeth is now the world’s oldest living monarch.
She is said to have a cushion in her private sitting room at Balmoral embroidered with the words : “It’s good to be Queen.”.