Produced by Bespoke Diamonds.
Produced by Bespoke Diamonds.
Given the complexity of an event like this, it is hardly surprising that problems and arguments abounded from the outset, not least of which was a protracted debate regarding the relative merits, or lack thereof, of allowing television cameras to broadcast the ceremony.
It had already been agreed that the ceremony would be transmitted to Britain’s eleven million radio sets, and to another several hundred thousand listeners internationally. In addition, various newsreel companies, such as British Pathé, were permitted to record the event, which would subsequently be shown to an estimated 350-million strong audience in cinemas across the globe.
But a live television broadcast was an altogether different story. Many, including Elizabeth herself, feared that without the benefit of editing, television cameras would shine a rather unforgiving light on the ceremony, picking up any slip or mistake the Queen might make during the long and difficult service. The extent of the opposition was such that, despite heavy lobbying from the BBC, the organisers decided not to permit a televisual broadcast of any kind.
The reality, however, could not be more different. Far from being the slightly ridiculous court jester of legend, the Duke of Edinburgh is, in fact, the glue that holds the House of Windsor together. Ever since Her Majesty’s coronation sixty years ago, when he swore an oath to be her ‘liege man of life and limb’, the Duke has rarely left the Queen’s side, steadfastly supporting her on a ceaseless round of royal engagements and state visits. Indeed, his self-effacing, no-nonsense approach to this life of duty has made it easy for us to forget the difficulties of his early life and the very great sacrifices he has made in service to our Queen and to this country.
Birth in Corfu
But there was another, often-overlooked, member of the Windsor household who suffered greatly as a result of Edward’s renunciation of the throne – Princess Elizabeth’s younger sister, Princess Margaret Rose.
Born on 21 August 1930 at Glamis Castle in Scotland, the ancestral home of her mother’s family (and which is also famous for being the fictional home of the eponymous character in Shakespeare’s Macbeth), Princess Margaret Rose was the second daughter of Bertie, the Duke of York and his wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. From a very young age, it was obvious that Margaret Rose, headstrong and unruly, was markedly different in temperament to her more dutiful and obedient older sister. But despite her naughtiness, or perhaps because of it, Margaret Rose was the apple of her father’s eye, and grew used to being the centre of attention within the close-knit household.
However, the Queen is not the only member of the current Royal Family who has clocked up impressive statistics – her son, Prince Charles, has also reached a significant milestone recently. Last year, on 20 April 2011, the Prince of Wales attained the rather dubious honour of becoming Britain’s longest-serving heir apparent, surpassing the record of his great-great-grandfather, Edward VII, who occupied the position for 59 years, 2 months and 13 days.
The Heir Apparent
Edward was educated at home until he was 13, and then spent two years at Osborne Naval College on the Isle of Wight, before progressing to Dartmouth Naval College. He did not, however, complete his two-year course at Dartmouth – he left in 1910 when he became Prince of Wales after his father’s ascension to the throne (although his official investiture did not take place on 13 July 1911). Nonetheless, he did serve as a staff officer in the Grenadier Guards during World War I.
As Prince of Wales (pictured here in 1919), he enjoyed widespread popularity, thanks in large part to his numerous visits to economically deprived areas of the country and his successful trips overseas. He was also the first in a long line of royals to become a qualified pilot.
However, David had little patience for protocol and the formality of royal occasions greatly bored him, a fact which greatly upset his father.
Edward and Mrs Simpson
17 July: The House of Windsor (previously the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) is created by Royal Proclamation
18 January: Prince Albert (Bertie), the Duke of York, announces his engagement to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, daughter of the Earl of Strathmore
26 April: Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth are married in Westminster Abbey, the first senior royal to do so since 1382
21 April: Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor is born at 2.40 a.m. at her parent’s home in 17 Bruton Street
29 May: The young princess is christened. She cries throughout the ceremony
21 August: Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret Rose, is born
20 January: George V (‘Grandpa England’) dies. Edward VIII becomes king
10 December: Edward VIII signs the Instrument of Abdication
11 December: Bertie, the Duke of York, is formally proclaimed King George VI. Princess Elizabeth is now heiress presumptive
12 May: Coronation of George VI at Westminster Abbey
21 April: Princess Elizabeth celebrates her thirteenth birthday, and soon begins a demanding course of study under the Vice-Provost of Eton College
22 July: Princes Elizabeth meets and falls in love with Cadet Captain Philip of Greece at the Royal Dartmouth Naval College
3 September: Britain declares war on Germany
4 March: Princess Elizabeth joins the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS)
8 May: VE Day
10 July: Buckingham Palace officially announces the engagement of Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten
20 November: Elizabeth marries Philip (now known as the Duke of Edinburgh) at Westminster Abbey
14 November: Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, is born
15 August: Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, is born
31 January: Elizabeth and Philip leave for a tour of East Africa, Australia and New Zealand
6 February: George VI (pictured) dies and Elizabeth II succeeds to the throne
15 February: Funeral of George VI at St George’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey
7 April: Proclamation issued declaring that the family’s dynastic surname would remain ‘Windsor’
2 June: Coronation of Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey
24 November: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh embark on a tour of the Commonwealth
15 May: The royal couple return to England, after six months abroad
31 October: Princess Margaret releases a statement confirming that she will not marry Group Captain Peter Townsend
19 February: Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, is born
10 March: Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, is born
21 June: First broadcast of the Royal Family documentary
7 June: The queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrates her twenty-five years on the throne
27 August: Lord Louis Mountbatten is killed by an IRA bomb off the coast of Sligo in the west of Ireland
24 February: Elizabeth’s eldest son, Prince Charles, announces his engagement to Lady Diana Spencer
29 July: Charles and Diana marry in St Paul’s Cathedral
21 June: Diana gives birth to Prince William
15 September: Diana gives birth to Prince Harry
7 June: The first instalment of the serialisation of Andrew Motion’s book, Diana: Her True Story, appears in the The Sunday Times
20 November: Windsor Castle is partly destroyed by fire
9 December: Prime Minister John Major announces in the House of Commons that Charles and Diana are to separate
28 August: Charles and Diana’s marriage is dissolved in the High Court
31 August: Diana dies in a car crash in Paris
9 Feb: Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret, dies
30 March: Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother dies
30 April: Elizabeth officially launches her Golden Jubilee celebrations with a speech to both houses of parliament
9 Apr: Elizabeth’s eldest son, Prince Charles, marries his second wife, Camilla Parker Bowles in a civil ceremony at the Guildhall in the town of Windsor. Despite initial opposition to the relationship, the Queen has since come to accept her new daughter-in-law, and was in attendance at the service of blessing held for the couple at St George’s Chapel.
21 April: Elizabeth celebrates her eightieth birthday.
6 Feb: The 60th anniversary of the death of George VI and of Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne.
2 – 5 Jun: Various events take place throughout the United Kingdom to celebrate Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.
If you would like to amend or add to this timeline, please contact us with your suggestions.
She was never meant to be Queen. Indeed, with the line of succession expected to pass to her father’s brother, David, and subsequently to his future children. Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, the eldest daughter of the Duke of York and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, was destined, it seemed, to live a rather unspectacular life in relative royal obscurity.
But, to use a sentiment from the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, the best laid plans often go awry…
When George V died on 20 January 1936, he was succeeded by his eldest son, David, the erstwhile Prince of Wales, who chose to take the regnal name of King Edward VIII (pictured). As Prince of Wales, David had lived the life of a pleasure-seeking playboy prince. Weak-willed, petulant yet endlessly charming, he was bored senseless by royal protocol and showed little interest in affairs of state, preferring instead to absorb himself in a number of adulterous liaisons with married women. Hardly surprising then, that the old king had predicted “after I’m dead, the boy will ruin himself in twelve months”,
And how prophetic those words would prove to be – in the event, it would take just eleven months for George’s wayward son to bring about his own spectacular fall from grace.
And indeed Edward VII (pictured left) did prove himself willing to embrace change. In what seemed to some to be indecent haste, the new king enthusiastically set about banishing the lingering cobwebs of his mother’s long rule. In addition to ordering a dramatic refurbishment of the royal residences, he also devised a number of spectacular ceremonies, including the Trooping of the Colour, with the aim of injecting some much-needed pomp and pageantry into the monarchy.
However, Edward VII’s reign was not destined to be a long one – when he died just nine years after becoming king, the Crown passed to his son, George V. And, although the serious-minded and conservative George was diametrically opposite in temperament to his more liberal-leaning and gregarious father, it was during his reign that the British monarchy overcame the most difficult challenge it had faced in centuries.
Did you know …
… Windsor Castle, one of the Queen’s official residences, is the oldest, continually-inhabited castle in the world?
William the Conqueror built the original castle as a motte and bailey after his defeat of King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Over the centuries, the early wooden structure gave way to the imposing stone edifice we know today. Henry II built the famous Round Tower and the surrounding stone wall in the 10th century, while the 13th century king, Henry III, was the first monarch to introduce an element of luxury by building comfortable accommodation within the castle walls. The imposing St George’s Hall was the brainchild of Edward III, who built it in the 1370s. Following the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, Charles II restored and improved the castle, while both George III and George IV invested vast sums of money into building and furnishing the lavish State Apartments which are still in existence today.
… The House of Windsor is less than 100 years old?