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Today marks Elizabeth II’s 70th year as Queen

Today marks Elizabeth II’s 70th year as Queen

70 years ago Prince Philip woke his wife, Princess Elizabeth to tell her that her father, King George VI had died. The young couple were in Kenya, which was to be the first leg of a trip that would have taken them to Australia and New Zealand. The King’s death of a heart attack in his sleep came four months after he had a cancerous tumor removed from his lung. A few days earlier he looked haggard as he saw his daughter and son-in-law off at Heathrow on their Commonwealth trip. Elizabeth was 25 years old–the same age as Elizabeth I when she assumed the throne. The Royal Couple immediately flew back to London on a noisy Canadian-built Northstar aircraft—the fastest passenger plane of its day.

A profile of the new Queen in the Globe and Mail described her as a disciplined person who had spent the years since the abdication of her uncle Edward VIII in 1936, preparing herself for her role as queen. “She is no intellectual giant, but she takes her Royal duties seriously, “observed an Associated Press writer, who went on to describe her war years in Windsor Castle where she was schooled in history, economics and philosophy as well as reading up on the constitution. In the last year of the war, the teenage princess put on the uniform of the Auxiliary Territorial Service where she became a mechanic and driver.

The coronation didn’t take place until June of 1953.  It was reported that millions of televisions were sold in Britain in the months leading up top the crowning. With no satellites or fibre, a military operation was needed to enable the ceremony to be shown on North American television. Film of the coronation was rushed to the airport, where it was transferred to a Canberra military aircraft and flown to Newfoundland, where it could be transmitted to CBC and US networks via terrestrial microwave. Due to the five-hour time difference, North American TV viewers saw the ceremony in not quite real time, but at least on the same day.

Winston Churchill was the first of 15 Prime Ministers that have served during Elizabeth’s 70-year reign

Over the years the Queen has served with 15 British Prime Ministers, starting with Winston Churchill through to Boris Johnson, and 13 Canadian Prime Ministers from St. Laurent to Trudeau II. She has endured divorces by three of her children and numerous royal scandals, but none involving her. The lowest point in her reign came with the death of Princess Diana, and the public criticism that followed over what appeared to be a lack of compassion shown by the Royal family. As she prepares for her platinum Jubilee, she has announced that she would like her daughter-in -law Camilla to be known as the Queen Consort when the throne is passed to Charles. It comes at a time when many observers wonder if the monarchy will survive beyond her reign.

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