She says the young Queen “is a dear and beloved daughter to me"
Just days after Elizabeth II assumed the title of Queen upon the death of her father King George VI, and her appearance to the nation, the Queen Mother eulogizes the deceased King, her husband: “It is difficult to realize that the King has left us. He was such a wonderful person, so...
Just days after Elizabeth II assumed the title of Queen upon the death of her father King George VI, and her appearance to the nation, the Queen Mother eulogizes the deceased King, her husband: “It is difficult to realize that the King has left us. He was such a wonderful person, so true and brave and kind, and one cannot imagine life without him. But one can only try to do what he would wish and as you know, he never gave in.”
George VI, with his wife Queen Elizabeth, later known as the Queen Mother, reigned from 1936 until his death in 1947. His reign was eventful. He led England through World War II and was the monarch during the indepenence movement in India.
During 1951, George VI’s health declined, and Elizabeth frequently stood in for him at public events. When she toured Canada and visited President Harry S. Truman in Washington, D.C., in October 1951, her private secretary, Martin Charteris, carried a draft accession declaration in case the King died while she was on tour. In early 1952, Elizabeth and her husband Philip set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand by way of Kenya. On February 6, 1952, they had just returned to their Kenyan home, when word arrived of the death of the King and consequently Elizabeth’s immediate accession to the throne.
The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and Elizabeth’s grandmother, Queen Mary, favoured the retention of the House of Windsor, and so on 9 April 1952 Elizabeth issued a declaration that Windsor would continue to be the name of the royal house.
Royal Maundy is a religious service in the Church of England held on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. At the service, the British monarch ceremonially distributes small silver coins known as “Maundy money” as symbolic alms to elderly recipients. The first English monarch to be recorded as distributing alms at a Maundy service was John, who on 15 April 1210 donated garments, forks, food, and other gifts to the poor of Knaresborough, Yorkshire. Elizabeth presided over this service on April 10 at Westminster Abbey, and it was the first public engagement of her reign.
Though Elizabeth would not be officially crowned until 1953, a year after the King’s death, she moved forward as reigning monarch in that interim.
Autograph letter signed, April 24, 1952, Windsor Castle, to Lady Exeter, a peer and family friend. “I was very touched by your kind letter, and did so appreciate what you said about the Queen and the carrying out of the Maundy Service. She has a wonderfully strong and serene character, and as you can imagine is a dear and beloved daughter to me. Thank you also for your sympathy and understanding – it is difficult to realize that the King has left us. He was such a wonderful person, so true and brave and kind, and one cannot imagine life without him. But one can only try to do what he would wish and as you know, he never gave in. With again my thanks for your thought in writing to me. I am yours very sincerely, Elizabeth R.”
This is an extraordinary letter about both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II, from the one who knew them best. We’ve never seen another like it.
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