When the future Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926 to the then Duke and Duchess of York, no one expected that this little girl would one day become Queen. At the time, her uncle, the Prince of Wales and later King Edward VIII, was still young and still expected to marry and produce heirs. On 20 January 1936, Elizabeth’s grandfather King George V died and was succeeded by her uncle, now King Edward VIII. By then, he was already well into his relationship with Wallis Simpson, for whom he would give up the throne by the end of the year. On 10 December, all the brothers came together for the signing of the abdication document. Elizabeth’s father was now King George VI, and Elizabeth was first in the line of succession. She was now the most famous child in the world. The year of 1939 saw Elizabeth taking her education a different course – she began lessons in constitutional history twice a week with the Vice Provost of Eton College. It was also the year that Elizabeth fell in love with her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece, whom she met during a visit to the Royal Naval College, where the 18-year-old Prince was enrolled. Her 18th birthday in 1944 meant that she could now act as a Counsellor of State, which enabled her to carry out state business if the need were to arise. In early 1945, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) where she learned the theory and practice of mechanics. Then, at last, came Victory in Europe.
Elizabeth no longer had lessons and began her day with correspondence and often did engagements in the afternoon. On her 21st birthday, she spoke the now-famous words, “I declare before you that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial family to which we all belong.” She was now truly a Queen in the making.
Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II by Jane Dismore gave us a look into the early life of perhaps the most famous woman in the world. It’s a fascinating look into how people used to think about how a Princess should be raised and educated. The lack of interest in her education is rather surprising, even after her father became King. I enjoyed Jane Dismore’s style of writing, though I did not enjoy the occasional dipping into gossip and sometimes very elaborate information on other persons. Overall, I would recommend this book if you’re interested in the Windsors.