NEW Fox News articles can now be heard on audio! The day of September 13, 1940, was ideal for bombing London.
And for bringing a future monarch to public attention.
82 years old this week. Breakfast is when the attacks start. German planes looking for new targets are hidden by low-hanging cloud banks over the city. After a week of midnight strikes, Luftwaffe pilots are finally able to see their targets clearly as they drop their payloads, despite British Spitfire and Hurricane scrambling to intercept the intruders. As bombs fall, Londoners rush to the safety of subway platforms, filling them. Red double-decker buses approach curbs. Explosions. Fires. Anti-aircraft gunfire and air raid sirens. It takes until 4:13 PM for the last “all clear” to be issued.
But few people have been hurt. Londoners who are fortunate enough to own a car approach bus stops as the bombs come to an end and call out their destinations, offering stranded strangers a ride home. The city appears comparatively undamaged when compared to the horrendous beatings London has endured since “the Blitz” started on September 7.
THE FOX NATION SPECIAL BEYOND KING CHARLES III EXPLORES THE LONG HISTORY AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BRITISH MONARCHY
The day will be made more memorable by five German bombs that drop just before lunch.
A twin-engine Heinkel aircraft that is flying over central London at 11 a.m. avoids low-level barrage balloons. The pilot targets Buckingham Palace while buzzing Trafalgar Square just above Nelson’s column and hugging treetop level over St. James Park. The prominent balcony at the building’s front is where the Heinkel bombardier focuses his gunnery. Currently residing is King George VI. The sovereign waits for his wife Elizabeth to remove an eyelash that has become stuck to his cornea as the Heinkel draws near. Despite Adolf Hitler’s desire for George to be killed, the king has steadfastly refused to leave London during the bombings in an effort to show support for his subjects.
The king will record the event in his journal: “All of a sudden we heard an airplane making zooming noises above us.” “Two bombs were seen falling past the Palace’s other side, and two loud crashes were heard when they fell about 30 yards distant in the quadrangle. We exchanged glances before sprinting as quickly as we could out into the tunnel. The entire event took place in a span of seconds.”
The damage to Buckingham Palace is severe. Devastated is the Royal Chapel. There is a water main break. Four employees are harmed, one of them later passes away.
Elizabeth Princess of Wales, George’s daughter, who lives in Windsor Castle, is unaware that the bombing is happening or that it would shortly be her first step into the position of a hands-on queen, a role she will perfect until her death. Elizabeth will not become queen of England for another 12 years. She and her younger sister Margaret were removed from Britain’s cities, along with 3 million other youngsters, for their own safety and placed in Windsor.
That life of solitude for Elizabeth is about to come to an end.
Following the September 13 attack, the British populace rallies around George VI, who tours bomb-damaged homes throughout London. People adore it. The king wants to strengthen the relationship between his monarchy and the British people in light of the improvement in public mood. Princess Elizabeth, he concludes, is the solution. She is asked by George to address the British people for the first time. Children like herself who were uprooted by conflict were the princess’ target audience.
Elizabeth delivers a speech that is hailed as “charming” and “lovely” on October 18, 1940, during the BBC program “Children’s Hour”: “Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers,” she says into the microphone from a Windsor Castle drawing room. “I, along with my sister Margaret Rose, feel so bad for you because we have firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be separated from the people we cherish the most. We want to express our sincere condolences to you as you adjust to your new environment and also express our gratitude to the welcoming locals who have opened their homes to you.”
Throughout World War II, King George VI gradually increased Elizabeth’s royal responsibilities. Like her father, the adolescent is being prepared to serve as an engaged monarch who engages the British people via both words and deeds. The princess, at 16 years old, inspects soldiers at Windsor Castle while posing as an honorary colonel of the Grenadier Guards. She is pictured cultivating vegetables in her Windsor Castle garden a year later as part of the country’s “Dig for Victory” initiative to avoid a food shortage.
At the age of 18, Elizabeth breaks free from the restrictions of being “honorary” and enlists in the military in 1944. She enlists in the Territorial Auxiliary Services, the female division of the British Army. George VI asks that his daughter be treated like any other soldier rather than allowing her to be given a high rank because of her royal status. Elizabeth learns to repair engines and change tires while working as an ambulance driver while undergoing her second subaltern training. She will enjoy performing these tasks for the duration of her seven-decade monarchy.
Elizabeth will use her father’s tenacious refusal to leave London during the war as a model for steady leadership and morale-boosting. The queen most recently used the phrase “We should take consolation that, while we may have more yet to bear, brighter days will return: We will be with our friends again; we will be with our family again; we will meet again” to inspire her country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Queen Elizabeth’s own military service during the war shaped her sense of responsibility. Marion Crawford, a royal governess, once remarked that the girl “took enormous delight in the idea that she was doing what other girls of her age had to do.” She adhered completely to the mess’s routine, taking turns with the other duty officers, doing inspections, and putting in a lot of effort to keep the automobiles maintained.