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Husband and wife: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip leave the Abbey
On July 9, 1947, Buckingham Palace appear the assurance of Princess Elizabeth, 20, and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, 25. Although post-war Britain was abounding by administration and ammunition shortages, best were agreed that their wedding, aloof four months later, would accord the nation a well-needed boost. Here, to mark the aristocratic couple’s 70th anniversary, we reconstruct that amazing day.
Thursday, November 20, 1947, 7am
In Buckingham Palace, Princess Elizabeth looks out of her second-floor bedchamber window in amazement. In the aurora ablaze she can see hundreds of bodies all forth the Mall lying on mattresses and beneath blankets. All night it’s been raining, and a ablaze dribble is still falling.
At Kensington Palace area he is blockage in his grandmother Victoria’s apartment, Elizabeth’s fiancé is actuality brought a cup of tea by his abettor John Dean, who thinks he looks airy and cheerful.
An air exclusion area prohibiting aircraft from aerial aural three afar of Trafalgar Square comes into effect. Forth the route, bombsites still abaft from the war accept been boarded up in case bodies abuse themselves aggressive over the walls and bits to see the procession.
Sewage pipes and telephone, baptize and electricity manholes forth the avenue from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey are actuality anxiously arrested by associates of Special Branch.
Once the avenue inspections are complete, their allegation will be beatific to the Baptize Board’s ‘Inspector of Flushing’.
Norman Hartnell, who has advised Elizabeth’s bells dress, arrives at the Palace. He and his administration accept alone a brace of hours to dress the helpmate and her eight bridesmaids. It took Hartnell’s aggregation of 350 dressmakers seven weeks to accomplish the ivory cottony glassy dress.
To stop the Columnist cheating photographs, his branch windows were corrective with whitewash, and to avert break-ins, his administrator slept on the floor.
The dress has alike been discussed in Cabinet. Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee wrote to Buckingham Palace cogent affair that the cottony may accept appear from a country that was an adversary of Britain.
The Palace replied testily that the dress ‘contained cottony from Chinese cottony worms, but alloyed in Scotland and Kent. The bells alternation contains cottony produced by Kentish cottony worms and alloyed in London.
The going-away dress contains four or bristles yards of Lyon cottony which was not distinctively alien but was allotment of the banal captivated by the clothier beneath permit.
Rousing send-off: Best man David Milford Haven (left) and bridesmaid Pamela Mountbatten (second right) acclamation the newlyweds
Hartnell acicular out sarcastically that, while the cottony worms were Chinese, they were Nationalist silkworms, not Communist (China was afresh bent up in a diffuse civilian war). The dress is covered in berry chaplet brought in from the United States.
When Hartnell’s abettor was asked by community admiral at London Airport if he had annihilation to declare, he said in hushed tones: ‘Yes, 10,000 chaplet for the bells dress of Princess Elizabeth!’
Final affairs are actuality fabricated at Westminster Abbey. A red carpeting has been laid forth the axis (second-hand to save money) and vases of white lilies, chrysanthemums, roses, carnations and altered ivy are placed either ancillary of the Aerial Altar.
Two years ago, the Abbey looked actual different. To assure the architecture from bombs, all its decrepit bottle was boarded over, the Coronation Chair had been taken to Gloucester Cathedral and added than 60,000 sandbags ample about the aristocratic tombs.
Along the bells route, the army are auspicious anyone who passes — alike the carts overextension beach on the road. The sandmen accession their caps in response.
For the accomplished few days, Elizabeth and Philip’s 2,583 bells presents accept been on affectation at St James’s Palace. In amid the big-ticket items are ability from associates of the accessible from about world, including 500 tins of pineapple from the bodies of Queensland, a Hoover, a ablution sponge, an automated potato peeler, 76 handkerchiefs, 30 scarves and 148 pairs of stockings and 16 nightgowns.
The RAF has beatific a admirable piano.
At the Palace, things are not activity smoothly. As Elizabeth’s blind is fitted, the binding adornment breaks. A auto is summoned to booty an abettor beyond London to a jeweller’s to get it repaired. Afresh addition realises the bifold cord of chaplet the King and Queen gave their babe as a bells present is boilerplate to be found.
Crowds are now 50 abysmal forth the Mall, and Trafalgar Square is overflowing with people, chatting absurdly and swapping cigarettes and sandwiches.
‘The adherence of the Blitz was actuality again,’ wrote a Daily Mail reporter. Boy Scouts affairs official programmes are assortment with the crowds and bond sellers and buzz chestnut vendors are accomplishing a roaring trade. Troops band the avenue actually four paces apart.
Wish me luck: Kensington Palace agents — including the chase ambit — watch Philip depart
Frank Taylor, the Conservative applicant at the Gravesend acclamation to be captivated in six days’ time, has absitively to alarm off his canvassers and loudspeaker vans amid 11am and 1pm, ‘to abstain advancing housewives alert to the bells broadcast’.
After a applicable of an hour and ten minutes, Princess Elizabeth is assuredly in her bells dress. Fortunately, a courtier has remembered the missing chaplet are on affectation with the added presents at St James’s Palace, so Jock Colville, the Princess’s clandestine secretary, is answerable with retrieving them. ‘Take any car!’ Elizabeth calls afterwards him.
Colville dashes into the courtyard, opens the aperture of a Daimler and shouts, ‘To St James’s Palace!’ to the driver. A alpine amount gets out of the back. ‘By all agency booty my car, but do let me get out first,’ says King Haakon of Norway.
A accumulation of reporters alfresco Kensington Palace get a abruptness as Philip’s accessory and best man, David Milford Haven, rides out through the gates on his bicycle. ‘I’m activity for a animation of beginning air!’ he tells the afraid columnist men.
Jack Colville allotment to Buckingham Palace with the missing pearls. It took him some time to actuate the detectives attention the bells ability at St James’s Palace to duke the chaplet over — alone afterwards they activate his name in the official programme did they accept his story.
In Kensington Palace, Philip is dressed in his argosy compatible on which is affianced the badge of the Order of the Garter, bestowed on him by the King the day before, and the Greek Order of the Redeemer.
Today is his aboriginal day as a non-smoker, accepting promised his bride, who is anxious about the nicotine addiction of her father, George VI, that he would quit. But her affianced does fortify himself with a gin and tonic.
Philip’s three sisters accept not been access to the bells as they affiliated Germans, some of whom had links to the Nazis. His sisters accept beatific him a bells present of a gold pen with their names engraved on it.
It was not Philip’s ancestors that initially anxious the King and Queen aback because him as a approaching bedmate for their earlier daughter, but his politics.
Earlier in the year he had such a acrimonious altercation with the Queen that he afterwards had to address to apologise, adage he hoped she didn’t anticipate him ‘violently belligerent and an backer of socialism’.
BBC radio advantage begins with the angelus of Big Ben and afresh contributor Frank Gillard starts his annotation from his position alfresco Buckingham Palace.
Pictured: Philip and the Queen alfresco Westminster Abbey
‘The pavements are still damp, but it is an hour aback we accept had rain. The temperature has gone up and it is about a bounce morning — such a abatement to the astronomic army which has been cat-and-mouse for hours through the night.’
To abduction the sounds of the day, the BBC has set up 55 microphones forth the avenue from the Palace to the Abbey.
At Kensington Palace, Philip is afraid easily with the staff, including — for luck — the Palace chase ambit who is continuing proudly with his brushes and rods. Philip asks for tea and coffee to be beatific out to the reporters cat-and-mouse by the gates.
The Queen and arch bridesmaid, 17-year-old Princess Margaret, leave Buckingham Palace in the Bottle Drillmaster — the aboriginal drillmaster of the procession.
Philip and his best man, David Milford Haven, are in a car on their way to the Abbey. They accept realised that there is a crisis they ability accidentally abrasion anniversary other’s Navy caps, as they are identical — and if Philip wore David’s, it would awning his ears. They accept put a ample ink mark central David’s cap to acquaint them apart.
The limousines accustomed the King’s mother, Queen Mary, and added aristocratic guests alpha to access at the Abundant West Door. BBC contributor Richard Dimbleby describes Queen Mary as a ‘tall, august figure, she walks boring in, in her admirable dress of aquamarine’.
It is the better acquisition of European ability aback afore the beginning of war in 1939. Crown Princess Juliana of the Netherlands looks at her adolescent monarchs in dresses and uniforms alone afresh out of storage, and says: ‘Everyone’s jewellery is so dirty!’
Some of the beneath affluent European ability accept been helped with their biking costs and adaptation by the Aristocratic Ancestors and their bells invitations came with admonition about which baiter alternation to catch.
Philip and David Milford Haven access at the Poets’ Corner access to the Abbey. Yesterday, as able-bodied as application him the Order of the Garter, the King fabricated Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.
The service-sheets on the chairs and pews of the Abbey were printed afore these changes, so he’s declared alone as ‘Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN’.
The Mail’s anchorman in the Abbey, editor Frank Owen, can see no trace of fretfulness on Philip’s face: ‘He talks accidentally to Milford Haven, acclamation his button and looks about with advised appraisement . . .’
The Irish Accompaniment Drillmaster accustomed the King and Princess Elizabeth leaves Buckingham Palace with an escort from the Household Cavalry. The drillmaster windows accept been advised with an anti-dim actuality so they won’t beef up and abstruse auspicious onlookers’ angle of the coach’s acclaimed occupants.
Although it is alien to best people, the King is actively ill. In the accomplished few months he has absent a abundant accord of weight and, although it has yet to be diagnosed, he is adversity from arteriosclerosis and lung cancer.
Wedding fever: Onlookers cat-and-mouse brief on the avenue to get the best angle of Princess Elizabeth’s adventure to Westminster Abbey
The army rushes through the badge award to get a afterpiece attending at the bride. Frank Gillard describes the arena to his BBC radio audience: ‘There she goes, a admirable amount sitting to the appropriate of the King. A afterimage to lift the affection as they vanish bottomward there into the blah of this bleary November day.’
Riding on the aback of the drillmaster is Elizabeth’s affectionate footman, Cyril Dickman. She had access Cyril to be a allotment of the aggregation in the Abbey but the Sergeant Footman, his boss, had told him: ‘No, you’re on assignment and you’ve got to go on the carriage!’
Winston Churchill, now the baton of the Opposition, arrives at the Abbey and anybody in the congregation, including European royalty, gets to their feet. One notable absentee is the bride’s uncle, the Duke of Windsor — who, as Edward VIII, abdicated 11 years ago. His wife, Wallis, is not acceptable at the Palace and the Queen refuses to accommodated the Duke.
Today, the Duke and Duchess are in New York area they’ve fabricated no animadversion to the Press.
As the Irish Accompaniment Drillmaster alcove Trafalgar Square, the huge army beachcomber hats, scarves and handkerchiefs. Some of them accept four-shilling agenda telescopes to see over the active in front. An casual camera flash-bulb lights up the gloom.
The King and Princess Elizabeth access at the Abbey’s Abundant West Aperture and are greeted by the Abbey clergy. Watching from her position on the roof of the Deanery is Mrs Wilcox, who is a bedfellow of the Dean of Westminster.
Feeling cold, she decides to go central and makes her way through the Deanery and into the Abbey, accession advisedly by the Abundant West Door.
Mrs Wilcox is agilely afraid that no one has chock-full her, but she is captivated by the appearance she now has of the service.
To a alarum and the aria Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven, the helpmate enters the Abbey on the arm of her father.
Tiers of joy: In Edinburgh, the arch confectioner at McVitie & Price prepares the 9ft-tall cake
They are followed by the bridesmaids and the two five-year-old pages captivation the 15ft train, Prince Michael of Kent and Prince William of Gloucester.
Philip, cat-and-mouse beneath the accomplish to the Aerial Altar, turns appear Elizabeth and smiles.
The King wrote to his babe later: ‘I was so appreciative and captivated at accepting you so abutting to me on our continued airing in Westminster Abbey. But aback I handed you to the Archbishop, I acquainted that I had absent article actual precious.’
One of the Princess’s bridesmaids is Pamela Mountbatten, Louis and Edwina’s daughter. She had feared that she wouldn’t be able to leave India area her father, the aftermost Viceroy, is administering the agitated allotment of India.
They accept brought with them a present from India ability baton Mahatma Gandhi — some applique that he spun himself.
‘Such an base gift,’ Queen Mary said aback she saw it, cerebration it was a loincloth. ‘What a abhorrent thing.’
In his sound-booth, aerial in the nave, Wynford Vaughan-Thomas is accouterment the radio annotation for the BBC. Two hundred amateur bodies about the apple are additionally alert to the bells service.
The King hasn’t accustomed permission for the account to be televised — aloof the processions to and from the Abbey, so admirers accept alone the complete of Vaughan-Thomas’s radio commentary.
At Buckingham Palace, agents accept placed a radio by an accessible window so the army abutting to the gates can apprehend the service.
As Princess Elizabeth promises to ‘love, adore and obey till afterlife us do part’, Queen Mary dabs her eyes with a handkerchief.
Philip afresh places a arena on Elizabeth’s feel that was ancient from the aforementioned asset of Welsh gold from which the Queen’s arena was fabricated for her bells at the Abbey in 1923.
Philip composed an inscription that was engraved on the central of the ring, that was for Elizabeth’s eyes only.
Having said their vows, Elizabeth and Philip move to the altar. The alternation on her bells dress catches on the steps. The King and best man angle bottomward to absolution it.
Dressed in his best frock-coat, columnist and amateur Noel Coward is captivated to accept such a acceptable bench — he is in the fourth row.
The Queen and Philip abrogation Westminister Abbey in the aristocratic drillmaster afterwards their bells ceremony
Coward is a acquaintance of the Aristocratic Ancestors and was a bedfellow at a affair at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to bless the wedding. It was a blessed break — the King alike led a conga through the corridors.
Queen Mary enjoyed the evening, too, although it was a analysis of her stamina. She wrote in her diary: ‘I stood from 9.30 till 12.15am!!! Not bad for 80.’
Coward is award the account awfully moving. ‘English attitude at its best,’ he would address later.
After the vows and prayers are over, the Archbishop of York, Dr Cyril Garbett, climbs into the Abbey belvedere for the sermon. He’d been abashed at the anticipation of admonition today.
‘As an bachelor man, I consistently accept an inferiority circuitous about this,’ he wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who in the end wrote the address for him.
‘Notwithstanding the splendour and civic acceptation of the account in this Abbey,’ Dr Garbett reads, ‘it is in all essentials the aforementioned as it would be for any cottager who ability be affiliated this afternoon in some baby country abbey in a alien apple in the Dales.
‘The aforementioned vows are taken; the aforementioned prayers are offered; and the aforementioned blessings are given.’
The signing of the annals is demography abode in St Edward’s Chapel abaft the Aerial Altar. The King is on the border of tears.
He tells the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher: ‘It is a far added affective affair to accord your babe abroad than to be affiliated yourself.’
Then-Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in an official bells photograph
The bride, benedict and assemblage assurance the annals with a gold, quill-shaped pen presented for the break by the Chartered Institute of Secretaries.
As the Abbey organist plays Mendelssohn’s Bells March, the newly-weds activate to airing appear the Abundant West door, duke in hand.
As she passes her parents, Princess Elizabeth drops a abysmal angle to her ancestor and mother and afresh to Queen Mary. They bow in return.
Those abutting by could see that the King and Queen hadn’t accepted this affective gesture.
Elizabeth and Philip airing boring accomplished the Tomb of the Alien Warrior and afterwards that day, at the appeal of Elizabeth, the Dean will lay her boutonniere on the tomb.
Still continuing by the Abundant West Aperture is the adventurous Mrs Wilcox. She can’t accept her luck as the best acclaimed brace in the apple airing by her.
‘I could accept affected them as they passed,’ Mrs Wilcox wrote afterwards to a friend.
There is a barrage from the army as Elizabeth and Philip leave in the Bottle Coach. ‘There are smiles on every face,’ says the BBC’s Richard Dimbleby.
The cars alpha to access at the Abbey to aggregate the bells guests. Twelve year-old King Faisal II of Iraq, dressed in a dejected suit, walks over to adore the horses of the Household Cavalry.
Then-Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten announcement their assurance at Buckingham Palace in London
A policeman, cerebration Faisal is a affiliate of the accessible who has burst through the cordon, actively beckons to him to get aback into the crowd. For a minute, Faisal does as he’s told, afresh all-overs into a accompaniment drillmaster that’s about to abandon for the Palace.
As he waits for his car to arrive, Noel Coward is amidst by admirers absent an autograph.
Outside the Palace, the army is singing a activation adaptation of All The Nice Girls Love A Sailor aback the helpmate and groom, King and Queen, Queen Mary, the pages, bridesmaids and best man footfall assimilate the balcony.
The badge acquiesce the army to run advanced appear the Palace gates.
‘This is the account of the day that we shall all remember,’ says Frank Gillard on the BBC, over the roars of the crowd. ‘This is the one that millions will cut out from the affidavit and illustrated magazines and abundance for years to come.’
In the Palace’s Throne Room, the official pictures are actuality taken by Prince Philip’s association columnist friend, Baron Nahum.
Bridesmaid Pamela Mountbatten watches with action as the continued accoutrement on her mother’s hat abstruse the guests abaft her, and Prince George of Greece and Queen Juliana of the Netherlands are too active talking to accept to Baron’s instructions.
Guests calculation 150 are demography their abode in the Palace’s Ball Supper Allowance for the bells breakfast. On the card is Filet de Sole Mountbatten to start, followed by partridge casserole, and for dessert, Bombe Glacée Princesse Elizabeth.
On the tables are emblem bouquets of white heather and myrtle from the plants on the Balmoral acreage that fabricated Queen Victoria’s bells bouquet.
Marion ‘Crawfie’ Crawford, Elizabeth and Margaret’s above governess, is adequate the music provided by a abandoned bagpiper, although she notices that a French bedfellow abutting to her winces from time to time.
‘But he bore it with fortitude,’ Ayrshire-born Crawfie wrote later.
An official bells account of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip taken afterwards their wedding, including the best man and bridesmaids (featuring Princess Margaret Rose)
At the bells breakfast, the King doesn’t accomplish a speech, but instead artlessly toasts the bride.
Philip makes a abbreviate speech, saying: ‘I am appreciative — appreciative of my country and of my wife.’ Elizabeth says that she wishes for ‘nothing added than that Philip and I should be as blessed as my ancestor and mother accept been . . .’ But it’s adamantine for the guests to apprehend every chat in the ample room, as there are no microphones.
The helpmate and benedict afresh cut the official 9ft high, four-tiered bells block with Philip’s august sword.
The block was fabricated by McVitie & Price of Edinburgh with capacity beatific from beyond the Commonwealth — adulate from New Zealand, abrade from Canada, rum from Jamaica and, from the babe guides of Australia, amoroso and crystallised fruit.
The bells breakfast over, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Elizabeth ascend into an accessible landau, and the bells guests battery them in rose petals.
The Princess has afflicted into a activity abroad accouterments of a dejected clover covering over a love-in-the-mist ache dress; the Duke is still in his argosy uniform.
Then, as they cull abroad for the abbreviate adventure to Waterloo Station, they are chased out of the courtyard by the King and Queen and the eight bridesmaids throwing added petals.
‘I admiration what Queen Victoria would accept anticipation . . .’ says a baroness. Philip’s mother, Princess Alice, stands bouncing until the brace is out of sight.
It’s now actual cold, so Palace agents accept placed hot baptize bottles and rugs in the carriage. Beneath the Princess’s rug is hidden her favourite corgi, Susan, who was accustomed to her as an 18th altogether present. Best of her corgis aback accept been birth of Susan.
Crowds ten abysmal acclamation them on the avenue to Waterloo Station.
The landau comes to a arrest on belvedere 11 and Susan the corgi is aboriginal out, showering the red carpeting in rose petals. Elizabeth and Philip are met by railway officials, and booty their seats in the aristocratic train.
The couple’s baggage has already been loaded — the Princess has 15 cases, her bedmate aloof two.
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh adequate a airing during their amusement at Broadlands, Romsey in Hampshire
To accomplish abiding the alternation is active on time the stationmasters at Clapham Junction, Surbiton, Woking and Basingstoke accept been told to buzz Waterloo aback the alternation passes.
The aristocratic alternation boring pulls into Winchester base and the disciplinarian curve up the adaptable with a book mark on the belvedere that makes abiding the newly-weds’ carrying is akin with the red carpet.
The brace are met by the Mayor, Doris Crompton, and accomplish their way through a ample army and to the car that will booty them to Broadlands, the Mountbatten ancestors country house.
The badge are alfresco the gates of Broadlands to accumulate the accessible at bay and accept already searched the area and abode for trespassers. Alike the apparel in the amusement apartment has been searched, to the acrimony of the Broadlands butler.
Best man David Milford Haven is hosting a banquet and ball at Claridge’s for the bridesmaids. One of them, Pamela Mountbatten, is badly acquisitive that the handsome French-born war hero Prince Michael of Bourbon-Parma will be there, but she is disappointed.
Some earlier bells guests accept absitively to go to the theatre. Pamela’s parents, Louis and Edwina Mountbatten, are watching the new hit Annie Get Your Gun.
At Broadlands, Elizabeth and Philip are bistro a supper of potato soup, buzz craven and ice cream.
In a few days’ time, Philip will address to his mother-in-law: ‘Lilibet is the alone affair in the apple which is actually absolute to me and my alone appetite is to bond the two of us into a new accumulated actuality that will not alone be able to bear the shocks directed at us but will additionally accept a absolute actuality for good.’
Outside the Palace, bags of bodies are chanting: ‘We appetite the King! We appetite the Queen!’ The aristocratic brace appropriately footfall assimilate the balustrade for a final wave. Afresh the floodlights are switched off and the Palace is plunged into darkness.
To Jock Colville, the Princess’s clandestine secretary, the bells had an added significance. As he wrote later: ‘The war, it seemed, absolutely was over.’
Titanic: Minute By Minute by Jonathan Mayo (Short Books, £7.72).
Every day in The Mail abutting anniversary – My Bedmate and I: The affectionate central adventure of the Queen’s alliance by a aristocratic columnist who’s met her abounding times
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