Wednesday, February 6, 2013
On February 6, 1952, Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor) became monarch, Head of the Commonwealth and queen regnant of seven Commonwealth countries, on the death of her father, King George VI, at age 57. The King had acceded to the throne in 1936 on the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII. Elizabeth then became heir presumptive, at age 10. The stress of World War II and heavy smoking (leading to lung cancer) took their toll on George VI, forcing Princess Elizabeth to assume royal duties, including a tour of Australia and New Zealand by way of Kenya. At the moment the King died, Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, were near Mount Kenya in a hotel built into the tops of trees; it afforded guests a view of local wildlife in total safety. Elizabeth’s coronation on June 2, 1953, was the first to be televised. Pictured: Elizabeth in Kenya’s Treetops Hotel, and returning to England as Queen.