Queen Elizabeth II – The 60s and 70s (Part three)

By Archives New Zealand - CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Read part one here.

Read part two here.

After a few years hiatus, Elizabeth wanted more children. She fell pregnant again in 1959 and gave birth to a second son named Andrew on 19 February 1960. Shortly before the birth, Elizabeth wanted to revisit the issue of the family’s name that had been irritating The Duke of Edinburgh. In 1952 it had been decided to use Windsor instead of her husband’s family name of Mountbatten. Elizabeth desperately wanted to please her husband and had set her heart on making the change for Philip’s sake. Eventually, it was decided that the grandchildren who lacked the designation of “Royal Highness” would adopt the surname “Mountbatten-Windsor.” It was apparently “a great load off her mind” when the issue was finally settled.

Barely a week after Andrew’s birth, Elizabeth’s sister Margaret announced her engagement to photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. Elizabeth had wanted her sister to be happy – especially after the situation with Peter Townsend. Elizabeth provided for the couple and offered Antony an earldom, which he initially refused but later accepted. By October 1963, Elizabeth was once again pregnant – by then four months. Charles was already off to Gordonstoun while Anne was at boarding school at Benenden. On 10 March 1964, she gave birth to a third son named Edward. She remained out of the public eye until May but kept up her work behind the scenes.

By the middle of the 1960s, anti-monarchist feelings were on the rise and the family was accused of being out of touch and pompous. Elizabeth continued to keep track of the newspapers and held steadfast throughout all the social changes of the decade. She faced yet another of criticism when an avalanche of mud and debris came down on an elementary in Aberfan – killing 116 children and 28 adults. Elizabeth refused to visit the scene, saying “People will be looking after me, perhaps they will miss some poor child that might have been found under the wreckage.” To the public – who never heard her comments – she appeared cold. Finally, after the last bodies were recovered, Elizabeth and Philip visit the site. At the end of the decade, the family appeared in a film documenting their lives. Viewers were captivated.

On 1 July 1969, Charles was officially invested as Prince of Wales at Caernarvon Castle in Wales, and this too was televised. He later said, “By far the most moving and meaningful moment came when I put my hands between Mummy’s and swore to be her liege man of life and limb and to live and die against all manner of folks.” It was estimated that over 500 million people watched the ceremony. Both Charles and Anne were now being introduced to their royal duties.

At the age of 45 – in 1971 – Elizabeth caught the “ridiculous disease” of chicken pox and stayed out of the public eye. It was a rare moment of ill health for the robust Elizabeth. Once better, she stepped up her international travels and this third decade of her reign saw her make 15 commonwealth trips, including six long tours of Pacific countries. In May 1972, Elizabeth’s uncle The Duke of Windsor died in France. His widow, the Duchess of Windsor, was allowed to stay at Buckingham Palace as his body returned home to be buried at Frogmore. The following year, Anne announced her engagement to Mark Philips – an army captain. He was considered to be suitable enough, and they were married on 14 November at Westminster Abbey. In March the following year, Anne and Mark were victims of a kidnap attempt with Anne shouting, “Not bloody likely!” as she was ordered to leave the car. Her bodyguard was injured, but Anne and Mark were unharmed.

On 21 April 1976, Elizabeth celebrated her 50th birthday. The following year, she celebrated 25 years on the throne – her Silver Jubilee. During her Christmas message, she said, “Next year is a rather special one for me. The gift I would most value… is that reconciliation should be found wherever it is needed.” She spent the weekend quietly at Windsor – not wishing to celebrate the moment her father died. Four days later, she departed for the first of two overseas jubilee tours. On 15 November 1977, she became a grandmother for the first time when Anne gave birth to a son named Peter. He was born without a title. His sister Zara was born in 1981.

The 70s ended with the rise of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister but also a terrible tragedy for the family. On 27 August 1979, a fishing boat carrying six members of their family and a local boy was blown up by an IRA bomb. The Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Doreen Knatchbull, Dowager Lady Brabourne (the mother-in-law of Louis’ daughter Patricia), Nicholas Knatchbull (Patricia’s son) and Paul Maxwell (the local boy) were all killed. Patricia, her husband John and their other son Timothy were critically injured. Prince Charles later wrote of Louis, “Life will never be the same now that he has gone.” He found consolation with Camilla Parker-Bowles, who he had known for a long time and who was by now married and had two children.1

Read part four here.


  1. Sally Bedell Smith – Elizabeth the Queen (UK & US)

About Moniek Bloks 2223 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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