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Comment 02 MARCH 2012

The day that Britain's young Princess ascended the throne

02 MARCH 2012

On the morning of February 6, 1952, while staying at Treetops resort in Kenya, Princess Elizabeth was informed by her husband Philip that her father, King George VI, had passed away during the night.

With that sad news, the 25-year-old's life was transformed in a way few could ever imagine. 

The new sovereign promptly returned to London to confront a flurry of state occasions, one of the first being with the Accession Council.

 

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"My heart is too full for me to say more to you today than that I shall always work as my father did," she told them in an emotional speech.

And work she did. The 61 years following that pledge have been filled with unstinting devotion to duty, prompting former Prime Minister Harold Wilson to call our Queen "the most professional head of state in the world".

Despite the importance of the sovereign's anniversary, it passes with very little fanfare. This is, after all, the anniversary of the death of her beloved father as well as the day she marks her accession to the throne.

Even on her Diamond Jubilee year, Her Majesty observed the day quietly and privately. A message was released by The Palace, and gun salutes took place in London and Edinburgh to herald in sixty years on the throne. Otherwise, the royal made no fuss at all.

Many people who celebrated the Jubilee have no memory of their Queen as Princess Elizabeth, or Lilibet as she was nicknamed by those closest to her, seeing only the steadfast monarch they have always known.

But in 2011, Prince William pointed out just how much his grandmother had to overcome to make that role her own. He marvelled at the fact that, at his age, the Queen had already been on the throne five years.

 

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"Back then, there was a different attitude to women, " he said. "Being a young lady at 25 and stepping into a job, which many men thought they could probably do better, it must have been very daunting."

William also admired her grace under pressure."You see pictures of her and she looks calm, she's poised, she's elegant and she's all the things she needs to be at 25.

"You present her with a challenge and she'll [get on] with it. And I think to be doing that for 60 years, it's incredible."

HELLO! Online remembers the era that marked the beginning of the Queen's successful reign.

 

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