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Reading Chronicle: Royalty

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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with Mayor Lockwood outside the Town Hall.

Throughout the period 1938 to 1964, the Berkshire Chronicle dedicated significant space to Royal events and visits to Reading and the surrounding county. The Royal Family had changed considerably at this time and made for interesting reading. Their visits created a reportable buzz and excitement around the town.

King George VI had taken the throne on 11 December 1936, following a royal scandal: his brother King-Emperor Edward VIII had only been on the throne for a year when he abdicated to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson. With Edward VIII’s abdication accepted, his younger brother unexpectedly became King.

King George VI had married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923 and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. George VI was the reigning monarch throughout the Second World War. He was also heavily involved with political strategy at this time, meeting with Prime Minister Winston Churchill on a weekly basis. George VI and his wife Elizabeth provided morale-boosting visits throughout the United Kingdom. They visited bomb sites and munitions factories, and in the King's case visited military bases, including Brock Barracks on Oxford Road, Reading.

The stress of the war and the acceleration of the dissolution of the British Empire during his reign had taken its toll on George VI’s health, exacerbated by his heavy smoking. He died on the 6 February 1952 at the young age of 56. George VI’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, took the throne immediately but was not crowned Queen Elizabeth II until a year later on 2 June 1953, out of respect for her late father. Upon news of the King’s death, the Berkshire Chronicle published a full two page spread on his life.

Queen Elizabeth II had married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark on 20 November 1947. Upon marrying Elizabeth, Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles and converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism. He adopted the style, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten and before the wedding was made the Duke of Edinburgh and granted the style His Royal Highness. Reading biscuit and cake manufacturer Huntley & Palmers made the original wedding cake for Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, a fantastic contribution to the wedding.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip continued George VI’s work of touring Britain and the rest of the world upon his death. They made various visits to Reading at this time, along with other members of the extended royal family who had specific interests in aspects of local life. Their four children, Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward, were born during this period. As the children grew up, their achievements were also recorded and celebrated by the Berkshire Chronicle.

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