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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