Monday, June 11, 2018

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty

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Today is a holiday in Oz, the Queen’s Birthday. Although Her Maj was actually born on 21 April, her birthday is celebrated on the second Monday in June. In England it is celebrated on the second Saturday in June with the Trooping of the Colours. As I have said previously in posts, although I am firmly of the view that Oz should become a republic, I will be the first to say that she has done a superlative job as monarch, often in difficult curcumstances. 

Here are some facts and trivia about Her Maj. 

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Elizabeth was born on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, King George V. Her father, the Duke of York (later King George VI), was the second son of the King. Her mother, the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth), was the youngest daughter of Scottish aristocrat the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. She was delivered by Caesarean section at her maternal grandfather's London house in Mayfair. 

Queen Elizabeth as a baby, 1927 

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The Queen’s birthplace is now a fancy Cantonese restaurant called Hakkasan, at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair. 

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Named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, the Elizabeth was after her mother, Alexandra was after George V's mother, who had died six months earlier, and Mary after her paternal grandmother. She was called "Lilibet" by her close family, based on what she called herself at first. 

Winston Churchill described Elizabeth when she was two as "a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant." 

Princess Elizabeth aged seven, painted by Philip de László, 1933 

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Whilst her grandfather was king, Elizabeth was third in line to the throne, behind her uncle Edward, Prince of Wales, and her father, the Duke of York. Although her birth generated public interest, she was not expected to become queen, as the Prince of Wales was still young. Many people believed he would marry and have children of his own. 

When her grandfather died in 1936, her uncle became king and she became second-in-line to the throne, after her father. Later that year, Edward abdicated, after his proposed marriage to divorced socialite Wallis Simpson provoked a constitutional crisis. (How times have changed!) As a result Elizabeth's father became king, and she became heir presumptive at age 9. If her parents had had a later son, she would have lost her position as first-in-line, as her brother would have been heir apparent and above her in the line of succession. 

A change to the Succession of the Crown Act made in 2013 levelled the playing field for male and female newborns, meaning that princes no longer take precedence over princesses. The birth of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s third child, Prince Louis, does not bump Princess Charlotte from the line of succession, making it more remote that Prince Harry will ever become King (unless there is a King Ralph scenario). 

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In September 1939, Britain entered the Second World War, which lasted until 1945. During the war, many of London's children were evacuated to avoid the frequent aerial bombing. The suggestion by senior politician Lord Hailsham that the two princesses should be evacuated to Canada was rejected by Elizabeth's mother, who declared, "The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave." 

In 1940, the 14-year-old Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast during the BBC's Children's Hour, addressing other children who had been evacuated from the cities. She stated: "We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying, too, to bear our share of the danger and sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well." 

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, making above radio broadcast, 1940. 

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In February 1945, she was appointed as an honorary second subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service with the service number of 230873. She trained as a driver and mechanic and was given the rank of honorary junior commander five months later. 

Elizabeth in Auxiliary Territorial Service uniform, April 1945 

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At the end of the war in Europe, on Victory in Europe Day, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret mingled anonymously with the celebratory crowds in the streets of London. Elizabeth later said in a rare interview, "We asked my parents if we could go out and see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognised ... I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief." 

Elizabeth with her parents and sister on VE Day 

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Elizabeth and her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, second cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark and third cousins through Queen Victoria, announced their engagement on 9 July 1947. The engagem,ent was controversial: Philip had no financial standing, was foreign-born (though a British subject who had served in the Royal Navy throughout the Second World War), and had sisters who had married German noblemen with Nazi links. Elizabeth's mother initially opposed the union, dubbing Philip "The Hun". In later life, however, the Queen Mother told biographer Tim Heald that Philip was "an English gentleman". 

Before the marriage, Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles, officially converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism, and adopted the style Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, taking the surname of his mother's British family. Just before the wedding, he was created Duke of Edinburgh and granted the style His Royal Highness. 

Elizabeth and Philip were married on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. In post-war Britain, it was not acceptable for the Duke of Edinburgh's German relations, including his three surviving sisters, to be invited to the wedding. The Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, was not invited either. 

Three royal brides in their wedding dresses: Meghan Markle, Princess Elizabeth and Kate Middleton. 

Elizabeth waves to the crowd from the Palace balcony on her wedding day. 

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She was crowned Queen on 2 June 1953, watched by a TV audience of 20 million people, following the death of her father on 6 February 1952. 

With Elizabeth's accession, it seemed probable the royal house would bear her husband's name, becoming the House of Mountbatten, in line with the custom of a wife taking her husband's surname on marriage. 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. The Duke complained, "I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children." In 1960, after the death of Queen Mary in 1953 and the resignation of Churchill in 1955, the surname Mountbatten-Windsor was adopted for Philip and Elizabeth's male-line descendants who do not carry royal titles. 

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as they wave to supporters from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, following her coronation at Westminster Abbey in London, England, on June 2, 1953. 

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Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch on 9 September 2015 when she surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother Victoria. On 6 February 2017 she became the first British monarch to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee, commemorating 65 years on the throne. 

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  • Her favourite dogs are corgis. It was reported in 2015 that she had stopped breeding corgis because she did not want to leave any behind after she died. In 2018 her last remaining corgi, Willow, was put down after being diagnosed with cancer. Elizabeth appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in 2016 to celebtate her 90th birthday, in a photograph shot by Annie Leibovitz. Also in the photo are Willow and two other dogs, Vulcan and Candy, which are informally known as “dorgis” – a cross-breed between a dachshund and a corgi introduced to the royal household when Princess Margaret’s dachshund Pipkin mated with one of the Queen’s dogs. 
  • She is the only person allowed to sit behind the wheel in Britain without a driver’s license — and continues to drive at age 91. 
Queen Elizabeth photographed behind the wheel of a Jaguar while driving from church service at the Royal Chapel in Windsor Park, 2017 
  • According to the royal website: 
When travelling overseas, The Queen does not require a British passport. The cover of a British passport features the Royal Arms, and the first page contains another representation of the Arms, together with the following wording: 
'Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.' 
As a British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it is unnecessary for The Queen to possess one. All other members of the Royal Family, including The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales, have passports. 
In other words, the message inside a British passport makes it redundant for the Queen to carry one. She doesn’t need a passport, she is one.

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