The king is Dead Long Live the Queen

Where I was when the Queen started her Reign on 6 February 1952

I sat in my classroom in Markhams Chase School along with my fellow classmates, Miss Whitley was teaching us can’t recall what though. Miss Duke walked in the perception of the young is so amazing, I think we all knew something was wrong and whispered something to Miss Whitley. What Miss Duke said shocked her and bought tears to her eyes. Children of this era were not used to seeing teachers cry in front of them, they were not like that, they had been through the war, they were brave strong and positive what could have happened, Miss Duke patted her hand and left the room. Miss Whitley could be seen to dab her eyes and turn her back on us her shoulder shaking slightly.

I was only 9 years old at the time and a bit of a tough nut but my emotional genes have always been paramount, I wanted to rise in my seat and hug her to make her feel better, but you did not do that then not to your teacher. We all sat in silence and anticipation waiting to hear what had upset our Miss Whitley, slowly she turned to us her usual composure seemed to have returned with reddened eyes she said to us “Girls it is with great sorrow that I tell you at 10.45 our dear King George the 6th passed away”. You know those moments that stand out in your mind for all your life well this was one of those moments and the silence that followed. 

We were not old enough to realise then the significance of the statement but we were old enough to feel the sadness of it. One of the girls began to weep then we all joined her. I remember putting my arms round Miss Whitley her quietly weeping gradually we all stood together around her desk together weeping. Thats how I recall being told of the Kings death.

But also this was the start of our young queens reign through which she has had joy, pain and sorrows. I have loved her, disagreed with her, but never disliked her. Her dedication to her people for the last 60 years has been unfailing, I for one will be celebrating her diamond jubilee with pride and honour. I will also be remembering, with the over 60s, that fateful day February 6th 1952.

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  • I agree so much with Mary Hawkins about how Londoners felt close to the Royal family, especially in post war days. I think it was because our families suffered so much with the concentration of WWII bombing in the East End and surrounding areas. It is well known that the King often made visits to bombed out streets most of which were located in boroughs where the most needy people lived. 

    I believe many Laindon people have relatives who remember the true East End and those post war years which is why we feel attached to our monarchy perhaps more than those from further afield. 

    I am happy to report that my mum is the same age as the Queen (86) and probably shares some of the same memories.

    By Richard Haines (17/05/2012)
  • I have just read my comment that I wrote a while back. As time has gone on after joining and enjoying so many memories of people on this site, I must confess now that I am not sure if our teacher that day was Miss Whitley or Miss Mayhew, but the episode still remains the same in my mind. An additional memory is that it was a knitting class, but as it is now 60 years ago I am sure you will forgive me.

    By Gloria Sewell (16/05/2012)
  • I too remember when the King died. I was working at Miller, Rayner and Hanson in Fenchurch Street and I helped to decorate the window with a picture of the King and drapes of black and purple material. It was a very sad time, and most of the offices had decorated there entrance or windows.  All the traffic stopped for a minute’s silence, it just seemed as if someone had pushed a button and everything came to a standstill. You could see few dry eyes, that was how the Londoners felt, so close to the Royals at that time.

    By mary hawkins (14/05/2012)
  • I can recall also the day the King died, I was in the sweet shop opposite Becontree Station with my nan. When we came out all the traffic had stopped for one minute’s silence. In February 1952 I hadn’t even started school but I will always remember that moment. 

    What fantastic scenes followed when the new Queen was crowned during the following year. Wish I had kept all the many souveniers we were given at infants school but they have all disappeared along the way. 

    I have to agree with Bill Diment that the Queen is to be respected in all she does. I have personally met Princess Anne (she’s nice) and Duke of Edinburgh but not the Queen yet although did give her a wave in Maldon once as they drove past on official business.

    By Richard Haines (15/02/2012)
  • I share Gloria’s respect for the Queen and I suggest that even those who have no great affection for her will hope she lives for many more years as she is committed by oath taken at her coronation to continue to rule until she dies. When Prince Charles and Camilla take over, they may not have the widespread respect of the whole of the population, due to having placed self interest in the past over and above that expected in the course of his duties as heir apparent. 

    Many are saying that Prince William would be a better successor, but this could only come about if Charles abdicated before he is crowned, after having been declared king, as in the case of Edward VIII. 

    If Charles renounced the throne before being made king, William would no longer be heir apparent. 

    There is no doubt, the monarchy will be considerably weekened with the death of Her Majesty.

    By W.H.Diment (14/02/2012)

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