As a child, Princess Elizabeth, never expected to become Queen as her father was the younger brother to Edward, the Prince of Wales, who inherited the throne from their father, King George V, who died in 1935. Indeed, Edward became King as Edward VIII but he abdicated after a few months and before any coronation because of his refusal to give up the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson, who was a divorcee and in those days unacceptable as Queen.
So the second son, our late Queen’s father, was crowned as George VI, despite his shyness and, as shown in the film “The King’s Speech”, having a severe stammer. George VI became much loved, largely because of his humility and leadership during the Second World War. I remember, as a small schoolboy, people weeping in the street on the day his death was announced.
Princess Elizabeth became aware as a teenager of her probable destiny that she would become Queen, but not, of course, when this would happen. At her coronation in 1953, she reiterated her vow that she would serve as the nation’s monarch until the end of her days and confirmed her Christian faith; she kept her promise faithfully (sic) right up to her death.
During her reign she met most of the World’s leaders, especially the Presidents of the USA and prime ministers of Commonwealth countries. At home she carried out her constitutional duties, such as holding a weekly audience with the UK prime minister, whoever he or she might be and in the strictest confidence, reading state papers every day delivered to her in red boxes, greeting foreign heads of state, bestowing awards on two or three thousand subjects every year and taking tea and marmalade sandwiches with Paddington Bear.
I met her first as a small child when I was staying in Malta with my grandfather who was Governor of Malta in the 1940s and hosting her and later Prince Philip. She then came to my school, Winchester, in 1955 when I was presented to her. Thirdly she pinned my MBE on my lapel when I became a Member of the British Empire for services to heritage transport in the UK and Europe (a land mass which in those days frequently got isolated by fog). During the medal ceremony, she asked me whether any members of her family had visited “my railways”. “All except one,” I replied. “Who’s that?” she asked “You, Your Majesty,” I replied; she shook with laughter. Lastly, we had a long chat during Prince Philip’s 80th birthday party at Trinity House opposite the Tower of London. I make no secret of the fact that I have always been a supporter of our monarchy. We were lucky to have her as our Queen. (David Morgan MBE,TD. President Emeritus,WATTRAIN.)