By Ben Wheeler
INTIMATE footage of the Royals, including a 13-year-old Elizabeth II, has resurfaced today, offering a rare glimpse into the lives Britain’s most famous family just weeks before the outbreak of the Second World War.
The video, taken from a newsreel shown way back in May 1939, shows Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret sharing treasured family time in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, with their father, King George VI and mother who at the time had the title of Queen Elizabeth but became better known as the Queen Mother in her later years after her eldest daughter’s ascension to the throne.
The silent footage reveals a picture-perfect family who can be seen sat together taking in a spot of light reading, which was clearly comical judging by their shared laughter.
The family are also seen strolling closely together as an exuberant, eight-year-old Princess Margaret chases and tends to the original Royal corgi, Dookie.
Elizabeth had learned just three years earlier that she would one day become Queen after her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry his twice-divorced American mistress, Wallis Simpson, a move which saw her father made king.
The footage was taken at a fascinating time in British history, with tensions growing on the world stage in the lead up to World War Two due to the increasingly aggressive actions and rhetoric of Hitler’s Nazis.
In March of that year, Britain and France gave guarantees to Poland that they would declare war in the event of a German invasion, which eventually took place on 1 September 1939.
Two days later as promised, shortly after 11am, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared war on Nazi Germany in a broadcast from the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street.
“I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street,” he started.
“This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin, Neville Henderson, handed the German government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by 11 o’clock, that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, that a state of war would exist between us.
“I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and the consequently this country is at war with Germany.”
He went on to make a scathing personal attack against Adolf Hitler, whose actions he stated, ‘shows convincingly that there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will.’
After providing brief instructions to the nation’s citizens, Chamberlain ended his speech by saying “Now may God bless you all. May he defend the right. It is the evil things that we shall be fighting against – brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution – and against them I am certain that the right will prevail.”