Downhome Magazine

I Remember Princess Elizabeth

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"The King has died. Long live the Queen." Those were the words of my father at our evening meal on Feb. 6, 1952, in St. John's just two weeks before my thirteenth birthday. Word had just been received that our beloved King George VI had passed away at age 56. He had unexpectedly become King upon the abdication of his older brother Edward VIII, who chose to marry an American Divorcee - Wallis Simpson. This prohibited him from continuing as King of England and head of the Church of England.
In 1947 Princess Elizabeth married Philip, Prince of Greece and Denmark. While he was from the house of Glucksborg, upon his marriage to Princess Elizabeth he became a naturalized British subject, and adopted Mountbatten - his mother's maiden name - as his surname. He was created Duke of Edinburgh on the eve of their marriage on Nov. 20th.
Princess Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen and crowned on June 2nd, 1953. It was a day of great celebration in Newfoundland, where local spruce boughs were used to constructed arches along the route of a parade where residents could celebrate and local business could join in by displaying their best products as a contribution to life in Canada's newest province.
As a British Colony, before joining Canada in 1949, we were intensely loyal British Subjects. We contributed troops to help England during WWII, played soccer rather than American style Football, and loved our many British traditions. So the death of King George was felt as a personal sorrow for many of us.
I remember one of the most difficult adjustments for everyone was becoming familiar with singing the new National Anthem God Save the Queen after singing God Save the Kingfor so many years. In those days the National Anthem was part of our lives. It was even played in movie theatres, while some stood silently before the start of each show.
To celebrate the Coronation, small tins of individually wrapped candies were distributed to all school children in June. These tins were quite elegant, with a lovely picture of Princess Elizabeth -now Queen - on the tin's cover. Many years later these little tins could still be found in Newfoundland homes where they were used to collect old coins or other knickknacks, long after their candy contents had disappeared.
While each of us remembers were we were when sudden - sometimes cataclysmic - events occurred such as the collapse of the World Trade Towers in New York, the day of our marriage, or our first child's birth. So it is that the memories of long forgotten events came rushing back as if it were yesterday, as we watched the Queen Elizabeth's recent funeral procession in England.
Thank You, Your Majesty, for sparking such memories; and by your example - giving us courage to face the future.

Respectfully remembered, Jim Mercer - 21/09/2022

London, On.
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