How wartime helped define her life of service (105 อ่าน)

16 ก.ย. 2565 12:33

How wartime helped define her life of service

Many veterans have been paying their respects to Queen Elizabeth II at her lying in state. As sovereign she was head of the armed forces, but her association with the military began much earlier, in wartime.

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Princess Elizabeth was 13 when World War Two broke out. Those six years of conflict would see her begin in earnest her public role as the heir to the throne.

It would be a defining period in the life of the future Queen, and at her death she was the last surviving head of state to have served in the war.

At the outbreak of war against Germany in 1939, the Royal Family - parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and sister Princess Margaret - was seen as a potent symbol of the values for which Britain and its allies were fighting. In October 1940, as Britain was suffering the worst of the Blitz, Elizabeth made her first broadcast. It was billed as a message to children who had been sent to North America to escape the bombing of British cities.

"We children at home are full of cheerfulness and courage," she said. "We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen. And we are trying too, to bear our own share of the danger and sadness of war."

The princess and her sister were some of the strongest propaganda weapons the government of the day had, says Prof Kate Williams, author of the biography Young Elizabeth. "It really was the Queen's first bombshell broadcast," she says.

The very fact that Elizabeth and Margaret, who died in 2002, remained in the country was a significant morale-booster.

There were suggestions the Royal Family itself should seek safety abroad, specifically in Canada, but the King and Queen would have none of it.

"The children will not leave unless I do," declared Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother. "I shall not leave unless their father does, and the King will not leave the country in any circumstances whatever."

The furthest the children were ever moved was to Windsor Castle, about 30 miles from London. "We went for a weekend and stayed five years," they said.




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