ENGLAND’S ROYALTY ON THE FRONTLINE
By Glynn Burrows, Norfolk Tours in England
King George VI, the Queen’s father, spoke to the Empire on September 3rd 1939, as the country was only a few days into the conflict that was to last till 1945. He spoke of difficult times ahead and asked that his people stand firm.
The King and Queen carried out a lot of visits to boost morale and one of The Queen’s most famous quotes from this era was something she said after the first time Buckingham Palace was bombed on 13th September 1940. She said that, at last, she felt that she could “look The East End in the face.” Now that her home had been bombed, she felt at one with her people.
The visits to factories and other work-places carried out by the Royal Family, raised morale and there was a proven increase in production afterwards.
The present Queen, (Princess Elizabeth) and her sister Margaret, spent most of The War at Windsor Castle, away from their parents and this was yet another way that The Royal Family were like the rest of the population. Many thousands of children were evacuated out of the cities and, to try to help those children, The Queen and Princess Margaret broadcast a message on Children’s Hour, urging them to have courage.
When she was 19, Princess Elizabeth joined the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) and trained as a driver and mechanic. She carried out her duties, much as many other young women and, on 8th May 1945, both princesses secretly took part in the VE Day celebrations in London, after they “escaped” from The Palace.
Although it was not unusual for a member of the Royal Family to take part in war service, it was quite something for a female, so close to the Throne to get involved, and it showed the public that their first family were “in it” with them.
Going right back to Medieval times, the King and Princes were often on the frontline, leading the soldiers into war and many of our Kings and other royals were killed during battles. By no means was King Harold the first King to die in battle, but he has to be the most well-known King of England to be killed in battle (and, in fact, he was killed in Battle too, as the place he was killed just outside Hastings, is now called Battle).
Other Kings of England killed in conflict include William I, Richard The Lionheart, James II and Richard III. Richard III has been in the news recently, because his body was discovered in a car-park in Leicester. (It came to be there because the car-park was on the site of Greyfriar’s, which was demolished during the dissolution.)
The involvement of the family in conflict carried on to recent times, with Prince Andrew serving in The Falklands as a helicopter pilot and Prince Harry served in Afghanistan, also as a helicopter pilot. Prince William was also in the military and also carried out a lot of his service career as a helicopter pilot, much of this time he was in the search and rescue department and, when he left active service, he moved to Norfolk, lived in a little village, near Sandringham and worked on the emergency Air Ambulance as a pilot.
Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England where he provides customized, private tours and also helps his clients trace their English family history. If you are thinking about taking a vacation to England, visit www.Norfolk-Tours.co.uk.