On this day in history….23rd December 1992

On this day in history : 23rd December 1992 – A national newspaper publishes the Queen’s speech – scheduled to be aired on BBC television two days later, on Christmas Day….

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Queen’s Speech, 1992 – ‘annus horribilis’ – Image : The BBC – fair use

The source of the leak was never found – but the text for the five minute broadcast, which had been recorded at Sandringham, was spread – virtually word for word – across the centre pages of The Sun…. The newspaper insisted it had done nothing wrong and had come by the story by ‘good old-fashioned techniques’….

“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure”…. – Her Majesty the Queen….

1992 was a difficult year for the Royal Family…. It was the year of the catastrophic fire at Windsor Castle – and the breakdown of the marriages of both Prince Charles and Prince Andrew…. From the speech came the infamous phrase used by the Queen to describe the year…. “annus horribilis”….

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Image via You Tube

Her Majesty sued The Sun and was awarded £200,000 in damages – which was immediately donated to charity…. In the following years certain changes were made surrounding the annual Christmas Queen’s Speech…. The venue was changed from Sandringham to Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace – and the media received no information as to the speech contents until late on Christmas Eve…. In 1997 the BBC’s monopoly to televising the speech was ended by Buckingham Palace – and became shared on a yearly rotating basis with ITV…. Some believe it was a snub to the BBC – over their interview with Princess Diana in 1995…. Nowadays the Queen’s Speech can even be viewed live on social media….

On this day in history….20th November 1947

On this day in history : 20th November 1947 – Princess Elizabeth marries Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten….

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Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten on their wedding day – Fair use

The wedding took place at 10.30am in Westminster Abbey and was officiated by Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury and Cyril Garbett, Archbishop of York…. Princess Elizabeth was the tenth member of the Royal Family to marry in Westminster Abbey – 2,000 guests attended the ceremony and it was broadcast by the BBC to 200 million around the World….

Princess Elizabeth had eight bridesmaids (including her sister HRH Princess Margaret) and two pageboys…. Philip, who had been made Duke of Edinburgh on the morning of the wedding, had his first cousin, David Mountbatten, the Marquess of Milford Haven, as his best man…. The wedding ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold….

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The marriage certificate, signed by Philip, Princess Elizabeth, King George VI and Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent – General Register Office and participants at the wedding – Public domain

Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell and the Princess had to use clothing coupons in order to buy it, as rationing was still in place…. Hundreds of well-wishers sent in coupons to the Palace to help – but although the kind gesture was much appreciated all had to be returned – as it would have been illegal to use them….

The dress itself was made from duchess satin; it had a heart shaped neckline, fitted bodice, with a low v-pointed waist – the panelled skirt fell to the floor…. The dress was completed by a 15-foot silk tulle train…. Upon her feet Princess Elizabeth wore ivory duchesse satin high heeled shoes trimmed with silver and pearl buckles….and were designed by Edward Rayne…. Her jewellery consisted of two pearl necklaces; one of which had belonged to the wife of King George II and the other said to have belonged to Anne, the last Stuart Queen…. They were given to Princess Elizabeth by her father as a wedding gift….

The bridal bouquet was of white orchids, with a sprig of myrtle, a tradition started by Queen Victoria…. Afterwards the bouquet was laid upon the tomb of the Unknown Warrior – another Royal tradition….

After the ceremony a wedding breakfast was held in the Ball-Supper Room at Buckingham Palace…. One of the highlights was the wedding cake, made by McVitie and Price – with its four tiers and standing nine feet high….

On this day in history….15th November 1977

On this day in history : 15th November 1977 – Princess Anne gives birth to a son….the first royal baby in more than 500 years to be born a commoner….

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Princess Anne and baby Peter – via Pinterest

Master Peter Mark Andrew Phillips arrived in the World at 10.46 am in St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington – less than 6 hours after Princess Anne was driven there by her husband, Captain Mark Phillips…. Their new son weighed a healthy 7lb, 9oz – and a 41-gun salute was fired from the Tower of London to celebrate and welcome the new royal baby….

In 1981 Zara was born, a sister for Peter…. Although Princess Anne is the Queen’s daughter she has no hereditary title – meaning Peter and Zara are the Queen’s only untitled grandchildren…. Reputedly Princess Anne and Capt. Mark Phillips declined an offer of a title from the Queen – which would have meant their children would receive a peerage….

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The Christening of Zara Phillips, 1981 – via Pinterest

Princess Anne and Capt. Mark Phillips divorced in 1992…. Princess Anne married Commander Timothy Laurence later the same year…. Mark Phillips remarried in 1997 and had another child, a daughter – his third, as he had also fathered one other whilst married to Princess Anne….

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Princess Anne and her children – via Pinterest

On this day in history….31st October 1955

On this day in history : 31st October 1955 – Princess Margaret announces that she will not be marrying Group Captain Peter Townsend….

A brief statement from the Princess was broadcast on the radio during the evening – read by the BBC’s John Snagge – it came as an interruption to the normal programme schedule….

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Princess Margaret in 1965 – Eric Koch / Anefo CCO

Princess Margaret and Group Captain Townsend had first met when she was just 14-years-old…. He was Equerry to her father, King George VI – and twice her age, married, with two children….

Townsend filed for divorce in November 1952 after his wife had an affair…. It was also around this time that Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend fell in love…. The relationship became known to the public after Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in June 1953; a newspaper reporter noticed Princess Margaret flick a piece of fluff from Townsend’s uniform jacket – an intimate gesture between two people who are obviously close to one another…. The story broke in newspapers all around the world….

In an effort to dampen the Press interest, in what was viewed as a scandal, Group Captain Townsend was sent to Brussels on a two year posting as an air attaché at the British Embassy…. Princess Margaret, being under the age of 25, had to have the consent of the Queen to marry a divorced man…. The Queen, being the Head of the Church of England, was in a difficult position – the Church was firmly against a union between the pair…. If Princess Margaret had been over the age of 25, she would need the approval of the Government…. Prime Minister Winston Churchill advised this would be highly unlikely…. Amongst the general public there was much support for the couple….

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Flight Lieutenant Townsend in 1940 – daventry B J (Mr) Royal Air Force Official Photographer – Public domain

Even with Townsend away in Brussels speculation surrounding their relationship continued…. The couple reunited in 1955, at the end of his posting…. Princess Margaret was now over the age of 25…. Anthony Eden was now Prime Minister – and under his direction it was decided that if she were to insist on marrying Group Captain Townsend she would be stripped of all her royal privileges; this included her home and her income….

It had always been assumed Princess Margaret, torn between royal duty and the man she loved, had bowed to pressure from the Church, Parliament and her sister, the Queen…. However, in 2009 a handwritten letter from Princess Margaret to Prime Minister Anthony Eden was discovered….which shed a somewhat different light…. The letter, dated 15th August 1955, suggests that she was uncertain of her love for Townsend – and that she needed time to decide what to do…. She told the Prime Minister she hoped to be in a position to inform him and other Commonwealth Prime Ministers of her intentions at the end of October or early November….

“Mindful of the Church’s teachings that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put the considerations before others”….

But actually, regardless of the wording of her statement, it seems the decision was hers – and hers alone….

In May 1960 Princess Margaret married photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones (to become Lord Snowdon) – but they divorced in 1978….(the first royal divorce since King Henry VIII)….

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Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon, Amsterdam, May 1965 – Jack de Nijs / Anefo CCO

Princess Margaret died in February 2002 – she was 71…. Group Captain Townsend had died seven years earlier, aged 80….

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Margaret seated in the music room of Buckingham Palace, August 21, 1951 – Kristine via Flickr

On this day in history….13th June 1981

On this day in history : 13th June 1981 – Marcus Sarjeant, a 17-year-old former air cadet is arrested after firing a starting pistol at the Queen during the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London….

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Trooping the Colour. Image credit : Ibagli – Public domain

The Queen, riding 19-year-old Burmese – the horse she had ridden at the ceremony since 1969 – had left Buckingham Palace around 15 minutes earlier, travelled down Pall Mall and just before 11.00am turned into Horseguards’ Parade – when six shots rang out…. Sarjeant had fired six blank cartridges before being overcome by police and a Guardsman….

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Image credit: Alberto Botella via flickr

The horse was startled by the shots but the Queen managed to maintain control…. She was visibly shaken by the incident but soon regained composure and the procession continued…. Afterwards the return to Buckingham Palace took the same route….

At his trial on the 14th of September 1981, presided over by Lord Chief Justice, Lord Lane, Marcus Simon Sarjeant from Folkestone, Kent pleaded guilty…. The Court was told he had intended to kill the Queen but had been unable to obtain a suitable weapon…. He was found guilty of wilfully discharging a blank cartridge pistol at Her Majesty, with intent to harm…. Under the 1842 Treason Act, the first time it had been used since 1966, Sarjeant was sentenced to five years in prison….

Sarjeant claimed to have been inspired by the shooting of John Lennon…. He said “I wanted to be famous…. I wanted to be a somebody”…. Psychiatric investigations drew the conclusion that he had no abnormalities within the Mental Health Act 1983….

On leaving school Sarjeant had applied to join the Royal Marines – but was unable to accept the discipline and left after three months…. He also only managed to last two days on an Army induction course….

He was released from prison in October 1984 after serving just over three years of his sentence…. He changed his name and began a new life….

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Queen Elizabeth II riding Burmese to Trooping the Colour for the last time, in 1986. Since then she has travelled in a carriage. Image credit: Sandpiper – Public domain