17-Bruton-StreetQueen Elizabeth II, the oldest British monarch, celebrates her 90th birthday later this month and, although we’ve run a piece on the Queen’s birth before, we thought it only fitting to take a second look at what proved to be a momentous birth.

The then Princess Elizabeth (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary) was born at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair – the London home of her maternal grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore (they also owned Glamis Castle in Scotland) – at 2.40am on 21st April, 1926.

She was apparently delivered by Caesarian section and the Home Secretary, Sir William Joynson-Hicks, was in attendance to ensure everything was above board (the custom, which has since been dropped, was apparently adopted after what was known as the ‘Warming Pan Scandal’ when, following the birth of Prince James Francis Edward, son of King James II and Queen Mary of Modena, in June, 1688, rumours spread that the baby had been stillborn and replaced by an imposter brought into the chamber inside a warming pan).

The first child of the Prince Albert, the Duke of York (Bertie) and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), she was third in line to the throne at her birth but thanks to the abdication of King Edward VIII, became her father’s heir.

The event apparently drew a crowd to the property (although none could yet suspect how important this princess was to become) and among the well-wishers who visited the newborn that afternoon were her paternal grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, who had apparently been woken at 4am to be informed of the birth of their second grandchild.

The property was to be Princess Elizabeth’s home for the first few months of her life (named after her mother, paternal great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra, and paternal grandmother, Queen Mary, she was christened in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace five weeks after her birth).

The home of her birth and a neighbouring townhouse have both since been demolished and replaced by an office building. A plaque commemorating it as the Queen’s birthplace was installed in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Year of 1977 and another to mark the Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

The Queen’s birthday will be officially commemorated in June.

PICTURE: Via London Remembers

 

 

 

Advertisements

For those who may not be aware, the current Diamond Jubilee is, of course, not the first jubilee Queen Elizabeth II has celebrated. In 1977, the Queen and the nation marked her Silver Jubilee, celebrating her 25th year on the throne.

Just as this year is designed as a year of celebration, so too was 1977 with the anniversary of the Queen’s accession culminating in a series events run over a week in early June. They included street parties, the lighting of a chain of beacons across the country (the Queen lit the first fire at Windsor), a national service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral (which the Queen went to in the Gold State Coach) and a river progress from Greenwich to Lambeth.

To mark the Jubilee, the Queen and Prince Philip also travelled across the country, visiting as many as 36 counties during a Royal Tour, and went overseas where they visited nine countries as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, the West Indies and Canada.

In London, a number of memorials were installed which can still be visited today. They include:

The Silver Jubilee Walkway. Opened by the Queen on 9th junee 1977, this is made up of five circular sections which are themselves located in a 15 mile (24 kilometre) circle around the city and takes in many of the city’s greatest sites, including St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and Shakespeare’s Globe. For more on the walk, see www.walklondon.org.uk/route.asp?R=3

• South Bank Jubilee Gardens. Originally created to celebrate the Silver Jubilee in 1977, these gardens, located between Waterloo and Westminster Bridges, have recently been remade – including planting 70 new trees – for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games.

Memorial Urn in Queen Square, Bloomsbury. This monument has inscriptions by poets Philip Larkin (“In times when nothing stood, But worsened or grew strange, There was one constant good, She did not change”) and Ted Hughes (A nation’s a soul, A soul is a wheel, With a crown for a hub, To keep it whole”) in front of and behind it.

King’s Stairs Memorial Stone. This memorial stone (pictured) located on the edge of King’s Stairs Gardens by the Thames in Bermondsey was first installed to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. The other side of the stone was inscribed during the Golden Jubilee in 2002.

• Plaque on Queen Elizabeth II’s birthplace. We’ve mentioned this plaque at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair in an earlier entry but it’s interesting to note that it was erected in 1977.

Any others you can think of?

Having spent the first few months of her life at 17 Bruton Street, the future Queen Elizabeth II moved into her parents’ new property at 145 Piccadilly.

The property, located close to Hyde Park Corner, was previously the townhouse of the Marquesses of Northampton (interestingly, it was while living here that her father the Duke of York first started visiting the Harley Street-based Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, as depicted in The King’s Speech). The 25 bedroom house was later destroyed by a bomb during the war, long after the Yorks had moved out.

As well as the house at 145 Piccadilly, the young Princess Elizabeth (and from 1930 her younger sister and only sibling Princess Margaret) also lived at White Lodge in the centre of Richmond Park in the city’s south-west. The Lodge, a Georgian property built as a hunting lodge for King George II, now houses part of the Royal Ballet School.

She also considerable time outside the city, staying in places including Scotland with her grandparents at either Balmoral Castle (owned by the Royal Family) or at Glamis Castle (owned by the parents of her mother, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore) as well as, from the age of six, at Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, the country home of the Yorks. The princess apparently had her own small house, known as Y Bwthyn Bach (the Little Cottage), in the grounds  – a gift from the people of Wales in 1932.

Following the death of King George V and subsequent abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936, new King George VI and his family moved from 145 Piccadilly to Buckingham Palace. Following the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the princesses lived in Balmoral, Scotland, and Sandringham but spent most of the war at Windsor Castle.

Princess Elizabeth, meanwhile, had met Prince Philip of Greece during the 1930s and in 1947, he asked for permission to marry her.

This week we start a new series in honour of this year being the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. We’ll be looking at locations across the city which have played an important role in the story of the Queen. First up, it’s the Queen’s birthplace – a now non existent townhouse in Mayfair.

The property at 17 Bruton Street, which is marked by a small plaque installed in 1977 – the Queen’s Silver Jubilee (it’s in the middle of the image to the right), was actually the home of the Queen Mother’s parents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. It and the neighbouring townhouse at 18 Bruton Street have both been demolished and replaced with a rather bland office building.

Born here at 2.40am on 21st April, 1926, the Queen, named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, was the first child of the then Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). At her birth, Queen Elizabeth II was only third in line to the throne after her uncle, the Prince of Wales (later, briefly, King Edward VIII), and her father.

The Queen’s grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, both visited the newborn child at the property (along with an apparently large crowd outside). Elizabeth was christened five weeks later at the Chapel Royal in Buckingham Palace. She spent the first few months of her life living in a room at 17 Bruton Street which had been previously used by her mother before her marriage.

Recent books on the Queen include Andrew Marr’s  The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People, the souvenir album Queen Elizabeth II: A Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Album, and Sarah Bradford’s Queen Elizabeth II: Her Life in Our Times.

• Correction: Bruton Street was mistakenly copied here as Brunton Street. It has been corrected. Apologies for the error!