02/06/2012

60 years a Queen

George VI.JPGAirport arrivals are often joyous moments, but not departures. When Princess Elizabeth left for South Africa 60 years ago, her father perhaps knew that he would not see her again!


Exactly 60 years ago today, February 6 1952, King George VI died and Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II of England. Just a week prior to that, she and her husband flew from Heathrow to South Africa for the start of a Commonwealth tour, hoping that her father would be able to follow them for a recuperative holiday by the coast. However, as a precaution, there were black clothes in the suitcase lest the King should die.

After the royal family watched the stage musical "South Pacific" the previous night, her father came to the airport to see them off. When the aircraft actually took off, he went onto the roof of the terminal building to watch until it disappeared. Many people at the time felt that ke knew that he would never see her again. A quote from Lord Chandos, the Colonial Secretary at that time, is the following :-

“I well remember the last time I saw the King. When Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip left Heathrow for Kenya, the King and Queen came to see them take off… I was shocked by the King’s appearance. I was familiar with his look and mien, but he seemed much altered and strained. I had the feeling of doom, which grew as the minutes before the time of departure ebbed away. The King went on to the roof of the building to wave goodbye. The high wind blew his hair into disorder. I felt with foreboding that this would be the last time he was to see his daughter, and that he thought so himself.”

In Geneva, as in all major airports, we can often see joyful reunions in the arrivals area, and we are happy that air travel makes this possible. However, some of us have also experienced waiting in the departure area knowing that we will probably never again see someone that we love. Perhaps this person is leaving, but more likely is that we are leaving that someone, after saying our last goodbye.

Today, in the midst of cold weather rarely felt in Geneva, Switzerland and eastern and northern Europe, we British can feel a warmth in our hearts and rejoice in the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

God Save the Queen.

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