February 6th, 1952: The Day that Princess Elizabeth Became The Queen

Sixty years ago today on February 6, 1952 The Queen’s father, King George VI sadly died and HRH The Princess Elizabeth became Queen. Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh were in Kenya at the time which was the first stop on a royal tour that included Australia and New Zealand. They were staying at Sagana Lodge, given to them as a wedding present, in the foothills of Mount Kenya. Princess Elizabeth and the Duke were on this trip rather han the King and Queen because the King’s health had been worsening.

Princess Elizabeth and Philip had spent the evening of February 5th 1952 at the Treetops Hotel, shown below, where they spent hours photographing wildlife and generally having a wonderful time.

This was meant to be a quick break from the regular duties and events of the royal tour. Shortly after they returned to Sagana Lodge on the 6th of February, Philip was informed of the news and he then told Elizabeth in the gardens at the Lodge. Because the King had died in his sleep, it is unknown what time Princess Elizabeth became Queen. Arrangements were made for them to return to England as soon as possible.

The King’s death was a shock to the family even though his health had been failing for some time. The Daily Mail reported last month that on Elizabeth and Philip’s flight home it was realised that the Queen did not have a black dress to wear upon arrival in London. ¬† Once the plane landed, a black dress was brought on board for her to change into before disembarking, shown below.

The Queen was only 25 years old at the time, and on top of the grief of losing her father she was now faced with the responsibility of being Sovereign.

The Queen’s coronation took place the following year, in June 1953. Sadly, her paternal grandmother Queen Mary passed away six week’s before the even but insisted before her passing that the coronation not be delayed and must go ahead as planned. The Queen had been eleven years old at her father’s coronation, so she knew what to expect.

Coronation of George VI

For the first time, the even was broadcast on television which ushered in a new, more modern monarchy. Here is a photograph of the day:

And here is The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the service:

There will be a series of events and celebrations this year to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, including a barge procession on the Thames in June, receptions, and a series of royal tours taken by members of the royal family across the commonwealth. We’re looking forward to it!

2 Replies to “February 6th, 1952: The Day that Princess Elizabeth Became The Queen”

  1. Thank you for the history of this important day. Suggest you see the wonderful column written by Conrad Black in Saturday’s National Post page A19, “All hail the Queen”, where he outlines the Queens mistake free 60 years on the throne.

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