60 years – You share your strongest and earliest memories of the Queen
by Harris MacLeod in Politics Lab
Thu May 31, 10:25 a.m. BST
For the third part of our week-long Diamond Jubilee series, we invited you to share with us your earliest and strongest memory of the Queen.
Starting on Friday, Britons will be off on a four-day bank holiday weekend in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
Looking back over her 60-year reign, which began after the death of her father, George VI, in 1952, we asked you to tell us what recollections of the Queen stand out most in your mind.
The event that came up most was the Queen’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey, which was held on 2 June, 1953, more than a year after her accession to the throne. In addition to the obvious significance of crowning a new monarch, many participants also said the day stood out in their minds because it was the first time they had seen television.
- Some of you even had strong memories predating the Coronation, back when she was Princess Elizabeth.
- Royal visits, and particularly any personal contact with Her Majesty, were also vivid memories for many of those who took part in the discussion.
- Participants also told us that the Silver (1977) and Golden Jubilee (2002) celebrations were their strongest memories of the Queen.
- While some of you said you resented being made to sit through all the pomp and ceremony as children, on the whole participants’ memories of the Queen were overwhelmingly fond ones.
What is your most vivid memory of the Queen?
What do you expect to be the most memorable event of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations?
The Queen takes the throne - 1952/3
“Age 3 – Being taken to a family friend's house to watch the Coronation on television because we did not have a TV” Anon
“As a five-year-old, going with the rest of the family and most of the village where we lived in Derbyshire to the village school where a television had been set up for those who didn't own a TV (the vast majority of people) to see the Queen at her Coronation in Westminster Abbey” Mike H, Mansfield
“At 8-years of age, the whole street celebrated the Coronation in Hammersmith, London. We had races in the street and a huge party in the Church Hall where Winifred Atwell played the piano. Every house was decorated and every child received a crown shaped money box” Anon
“Being totally bored as an 11-year-old, being made to watch the Coronation on a neighbour’s TV, then being made to watch it again, by my school, at the cinema” Peter W, Sussex
“The Coronation, and learning to sing 'God save the Queen' instead of ‘God save the King’” Anon
“Getting a TV for the Coronation, and getting relevant items from school such as a mug, pencil, money box and stage coach. And proper street parties just for the kids, and sports with prizes” Melvyn C, Colchester
“Having a Coronation mug – I was 2 years old and I knew it was special” Mo, North Somerset
“Having to see her come back from Treetops [in Kenya] after learning of the death of her father. She went out as a Princess and came back as our uncrowned Queen” Vall C, Yorkshire & Humberside
“Her Coronation in 1952, and the celebrations. We went next door to watch on a floor-standing black and white television (about a 12 inch screen); must have been 25 people in the small room. There was a street party and I went as Robin Hood and won a prize. It was an autograph book (red with an ER seal on it)” Graham L, Worcestershire
“I remember the Coronation. She made her promise to us all and has kept them unlike so many politicians” Anon
“I was sitting in my primary class at school when the teacher announced that the King had died and Princess Elizabeth was now our Queen and we said ‘God Save the Queen’" George W, Scotland
“My earliest memory is actually of King George VI dying. I was at school (aged 6) and the teachers were whispering to each other in shocked tones. When we children asked what was wrong they would only answer that something awful had happened” Gill Duval, High Wycombe
“Seeing pictures in the papers when her father had died, then watching the Coronation on the 12" TV – first time I'd seen TV” Alex, Northumberland
“Spending most of Coronation Day in a neighbour's house with my family, watching the TV transmissions from Westminster Abbey. I recall them as grainy black and white pictures, but not having a TV at home the experience was wonderful. I suspect the experience was memorable more for the TV pictures than the Coronation itself, but the Queen being so young was another point that made an impact. Being only ten years old, most adults seemed old to me, except for the Queen” Gordon Johnson, Caithness
“When King George died I was at Junior School and anyone who was in Scouts or Guides had to wear their uniform on the day of the funeral. I was a Brownie, and therefore wore my uniform to school that day and we were given a black arm-band to wear as a sign of respect. After that, I remember the excitement of the Coronation; we learnt lots of things about it at school, and were encouraged to draw and paint various scenes. There was lots of memorabilia on sale and at school we were given a red and blue propelling pencil and a Coronation mug. Hardly anyone had a TV, but we gathered around a small black and white set in a neighbour's house. I was thoroughly bored by the programme but enjoyed watching it in Technicolour when the film was shown at our local cinema” Chris S, Bridlington
Royal visits and sightings
“Age about 9 or 10 – The Queen was going to a new factory and her car was going past our school, so for over an hour the whole school waited on the pavement for to give her a wave. There was a huge British flag handing from some classrooms. The car eventually came but it was going rather fast. She was waving but not looking at us she was speaking to Philip. This was in the 60's” Hazel M, Dundee
“She came to Sheffield when I was about 14. Children from different schools did a marching display and spelled out ‘Welcome to Sheffield’ and I was in the ‘H’. I was very proud to have been chosen for this” Barbara W, Sheffield
“Being surprised at how short she is. I saw her when I was about 12 and was taller than her” Simon, North Cornwall
“Going on a school trip to the Essex Show in the late 1970s, which the Queen attended and watching her drive past in an open top car” Anon
“I grew up in Bonn, Germany, and remember her visiting when I was about 14. Everybody came out to see her, and everybody was laughing at the then German President's appalling English” Anon
“I saw the Queen and Price Philip at Athletic Park, Wellington, New Zealand. She was wearing green. The park was full of school children in 1954” Anon
“I was on HMS Tartar whilst we were the Royal Guard ship for the Queen’s tour of Mexico and the US” Billy C, Tayport
“Although recent, her visit to Ireland is certainly my most poignant memory/image of the Queen” Anon
“I was one of five children from my primary school selected to go to Warrington Town Hall to see the Queen on a visit in the late 1970s. I was really excited because thought we were actually going to meet her, so was quite disappointed to find that we were to stand on bleachers outside the town hall. I waved my flag really fast because I hoped she'd see me, but of course she didn't” Karen, Bolton
“My strongest memory of the Queen is when she set foot in the Republic of Ireland for the first time. She seemed proud to be there. Also, when she talked about her life being touched by the tragedy of the troubles she was referring to Mountbatten, and I saw a certain steel for which I admired her. She was speaking from the heart even though she was careful to use very diplomatic language” Anthony, Derry
“When she visited Hong Kong in the early ‘70s and came to the barracks where I worked, and I saw her up close for the first time and realised how small she is” Linda T, Thames Ditton
“Seeing her at a theatre visit in London when I was a small child, possibly about 6-year- old. She was wearing yellow, and I think I must have been held up to see her, but there were a lot of people between me and her and I could only see her hat” Anon
“Seeing the Queen when she toured the country in the late 1960s (1966 maybe). I was a brownie and lined the church path as she walked up. I was caught on film wiping my nose on my sleeve at just the moment the Queen walked past. I believe it was shown on TV at the end of broadcasting for many years” Heather Wheeler
“1977, the Silver Jubilee – I was six. She came to Truro and my grandparents took me to see her. We waited by the side of the road, in a huge flag-waving crowd, for what seemed like hours. Then, the Royal party walked past within a few feet and I waved my little plastic Union Flag as hard as I could, hoping she'd notice. I have no idea if she did, but my granddad said she did and that was good enough” Anon
“My strongest memory was of the Golden Jubilee in 2002, when I was 10” Chris, Kent
“Golden Jubilee celebrations in ’02 – I was at primary school and remember seeing her on a TV” Abi L, Sheffield
“I received a letter from her when I was 9, after I wrote to her congratulating her on her Silver” Anon
“Meeting her at her Golden Jubilee” Anon
“We went to cheer her when she and Prince Philip came to our local train station as part of her tour during her Silver Jubilee celebrations” Anon
“My strongest memory is probably of the Golden Jubilee while I was in primary school. I was probably only about 8, but the whole school celebrated and I got a golden coin” Abi L, Sheffield
“Waving at her car during the Silver Jubilee tour; I was about 3 and I had chicken pox, but I was so excited to be seeing the Queen” Liz E, Gosport
“The 1977 silver jubilee – I remember the fantastic time I had as a 14-year-old at the street party. It was such a good atmosphere and everyone was so in favour of the Queen and the monarchy” Anon
“Earliest memory of Her Majesty is seeing her on the Palace balcony at the Golden Jubilee when I was about 10. She looked like she was about to cry when the national anthem came on and the hundreds of thousands on the Mall sang and waved flags” Mr J Wright, Sheffield
“1977 the Silver Jubilee – we were living in Germany as part of the British Forces of the Rhine, and I was a young child. I remember the huge tattoo held by the British Forces in Germany celebrating her 25 years on the throne” Carole P, Cardiff
“My strongest memory is meeting the Queen when she did a walkabout with Price Philip to open the Windsor/Eton Bridge during the 2002 Golden Jubilee celebrations. The Queen walked down one side, and Price Philip down the other side, and we were lucky to get onto the Queen's side. She arrived in a big black car, and was wearing a bright green outfit and hat. She spoke with us and asked us some questions about where we were from. Meeting her in person really improved my perception of her. She had a very friendly smile and seemed very genuine. I will never forget the experience” Anon
“1947 and our family of four was still living in post war cramped lodgings. As a child, not quite eight years of age. magical things only happened in my much-read story books, but when Princess Elizabeth married her Prince I felt I was part of a real life fairy tale. Our lodgings had a veranda, which linked the living room to the kitchen, and high on the wall of this rather cramped place was a box relaying the happenings of the great day from the living room where our landlady had her much prized radio. There wasn't room for any chairs, but this didn't seem a problem to either my mom, sister or myself, and although there was almost as much crackling coming from the box as words, the commentator brought the majesty and magic of the occasion so vividly to life I felt I was there for real. For a while I was part of a life I didn't know existed, and young though I was I remember feeling the war years were truly over, even if my food coupons did still only allow me to buy 2oz of sweets a week!” Margaret, West Midlands
“I first met the Queen as Princess Elizabeth at the wedding of Lord Mountbatten’s daughter at Romsey Abbey in 1947. I was in the choir and she came to see us after the service with the King and Queen” David R, Ivybridge
“When I was a child and people didn’t have televisions in every home. I heard the wedding of the Queen and Prince Philip being described on the radio, and oh how I longed to be able to see her as a bride. We had to wait to see the pictures in the newspaper. I thought she looked wonderful” Barbara Hinson, Chelmsford
“Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret – I was obsessed with them as a child and there was far more publicity around the Royal Family than there is generally today. Most of it was during WWII, and I remember the princesses speaking to the children of The Empire” Anon
“Watching Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret with their parents, shown on Movietone News at the Saturday matinee. We were all the same age group and we watched without any petty jealousy. We all stood for the National Anthem as it was played before we left the cinema” Anon
“I have a strong memory of Her Majesty and her sister, Princess Margaret speaking on the radio to the children of Britain, and especially to those evacuated to Canada and the US during the early days of the war. They clearly identified with the rest of us, and seemed genuinely sorry for those who were separated from their parents. Another abiding memory is of a newsreel report of the young Princess Elizabeth in army uniform as a member of the ATS, crawling out from under an army waggon on which she was working. She was greasy, but beaming” Frank Dunne, Stockton-on-Tees
“I remember the Princess Elizabeth visiting Cheltenham when I was a schoolgirl in the 1950s. We were taught, after many rehearsals, to curtsey by our rather masculine gym mistress. Then, in complete school uniform, carrying umbrellas because of the pouring rain, we duly curtseyed as her car drove past. She looked at the opposite side of the street but I do remember how pretty she was” Anon
“As a Princess being shown with her family in air-raid shelters on Movietone News in the early 1940's” Anon
“I was 12-years-old and my mother had taken my sister and me to see the Royal wedding presents at St James Palace. It was a grey but dry day. There weren't many people around and nobody near us at all. We came to a side road and had to wait because a car was coming out. It was an ordinary car and there were a man and woman in it. We all thought the girl was very, very pretty and it was only when they just started moving again and we'd had to time to look at the driver we realised it was Prince Philip with Princess Elizabeth. The whole thing is still in my head like a bit of film - 65 years later. She was so pretty and bright” Sarah T M B, Lymington
What is your most vivid memory of the Queen?
What do you expect to be the most memorable event of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations?