By Alex Jones
REMARKABLE photos from seventy years ago show tourists from the United States enjoying the sights and sounds of London as the UK and USA cemented their ‘Special Relationship’ with the then Princess Elizabeth’s encouragement.
Nostalgic images from 1949 show crowds clamouring to refresh their wardrobes after the clothes ration was finally ended; Dumbo the elephant giving an American family a welcome to remember; and a stewardess showing off the sheer scale of the world’s largest plane ‘America’ as US citizens were encouraged to holiday on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Another striking monochrome shot shows a young Princess Elizabeth – still four years away from her glittering coronation – visiting a local travel agency in a campaign to cement Anglo-American’s blossoming alliance.
In 1946 Winston Churchill, who had resigned a year prior after the Conservative Party suffered a landslide defeat to Clement Attlee’s Labour party in a general election, gave a number of speeches whilst visiting the United States.
Two particular phrases from this lecture series have stood the test of time: The first was ‘the iron curtain’ – the imaginary border dividing capitalist Europe from communist USSR – whilst the second was ‘Special Relationship’. For many decades the USA and United Kingdom have enjoyed a peaceful association together, often sharing cordial political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, military, and historical relations.
In 1949, the UK government wanted to declare Britain as ‘open for business’ post war and encouraged US citizens to vacation here, hence these incredible publicity shots. The scheme worked as tens of thousands of Americans flocked to the UK, spending millions of dollars in the process – a welcome addition to the heavily depleted coffers of the treasury as it rebuilt the country.
As USA-UK relationships enter a new phase with US President Donald Trump running for office again in 2020 and a new British Prime Minister – and perhaps general election – imminent, these photos serve as a timely reminder of historical diplomatic ties between two world leaders.