The moment the Queen learnt she was heir to the throne
Princess Elizabeth was just ten years old when her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated
The extraordinary moment the Queen learnt that she had become heiress presumptive to the throne in December 1956 has been revealed in a new documentary. The first episode of Elizabeth: Our Queen tells how a young Princess Elizabeth, aged ten, had started her day as normal – by attending a swimming lesson. She came home and was getting ready to write up her notes from her class when she heard cries of ‘God Save the King’ from outside.
The young Princess asked the footman what was happening, and he explained that her uncle King Edward VIII had abdicated, making her father the new King. The documentary reveals how Elizabeth went to find her younger sister Princess Margaret to tell her the news, and Margaret replied: “Well, does that mean you’re going to be Queen now? Poor you!”
Elizabeth: Our Queen airs on Tuesday night, to coincide with the 66th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. The Channel 5 eight-part series chronicles the monarch’s life with interviews from Prime Ministers, close friends, royal household members and special advisors who know her best. Those close to her will paint a personal picture of the monarch, who is one of the most famous, yet mysterious, women in the world.
During her reign, the Queen has seen 12 Prime Ministers come and go, witnessed dramatic social and technological change and had to choose between family and duty. The first episode will explore Elizabeth’s early years, with personal testimonies from friends and acquaintances, while the second episode will hark back to her coronation.
As she does most years, Her Majesty spends 6 February in private; although it marks the day she became Queen, it was also the day she lost her father, King George VI. The mother-of-four does not carry out any official engagements and instead spends the date quietly at Sandringham, in reflection. She is due to return to London to resume her royal duties later this week with her husband Prince Philip.