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The Queen at 90: Time to Celebrate

PUBLISHED: 09:43 19 April 2016 | UPDATED: 09:43 19 April 2016

Crowds lined her route - do you remember the happy day for Norwich in June 1951?

Crowds lined her route - do you remember the happy day for Norwich in June 1951?

EDP Library

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is 90 this week. We mark her special birthday with the first of three special features looking back over the life of our monarch

The Duke and Duchess of York with their baby daughter Princess Elizabeth, in this photograph from April 1926. Picture: PA/PA WireThe Duke and Duchess of York with their baby daughter Princess Elizabeth, in this photograph from April 1926. Picture: PA/PA Wire

It is June 18, 1951, and the first official visit to Norwich by Princess Elizabeth - and the city welcomes her with opens arms and plenty of style. Many thousands line the route of her six-hour visit to formally open the Norwich Festival of Britain Fortnight.

The princess arrives at Thorpe Station before travelling by open-topped car to City Hall, where the crowds stand up to seven deep waiting to greet her.

The Lord Mayor, Eric Hinde pays tribute to the people and traders of Norwich “who have done their best to cover our scars, freshen our paint and with decorations of flowers and flags had added grace and beauty to our historic city”. Princess Elizabeth comments that: “If there is one spirit among others which they will find enthroned in Norwich it is possibly the gay spirit of Elizabethan England.”

During her visit she also opens the Colman Art Galleries at the Castle Museum, lunches at the Assembly House, and tours Norwich Cathedral as well as learning about the city’s silk and shoe industry with a visit to St Mary’s Silk Mills of Francis Hinde and Sons.

The christening group of Princess Elizabeth in 1926, (back row, left to right) The Duke of Connaught, King George V, The Duke of York and The Earl Strathmore. (front row, left to right) Lady Elphinstone, Queen Mary, The Duchess of York (later the Queen Mother) with Princess Elizabeth, The Countess of Strathmore and Princess Mary. Picture: PA WireThe christening group of Princess Elizabeth in 1926, (back row, left to right) The Duke of Connaught, King George V, The Duke of York and The Earl Strathmore. (front row, left to right) Lady Elphinstone, Queen Mary, The Duchess of York (later the Queen Mother) with Princess Elizabeth, The Countess of Strathmore and Princess Mary. Picture: PA Wire

The early years - This month we highlight the first 30 years of The Queen’s extraordinary life story:

Princess Elizabeth is born on April 21, 1926, the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, and third in line to the throne.

She is educated at home with her sister, Princess Margaret, and also becomes a Girl Guide - she is patron of the Girlguiding organisation today.

The Queen and Prince Philip have been married 68 yearsThe Queen and Prince Philip have been married 68 years

When the princess was nine years old, her grandfather King George V died and her uncle becomes King Edward VIII. But a constituential crisis follows as Edward wants to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, and in December 1936 he abdicates. Princess Elizabeth’s father is crowned King George VI in May 1937.

The Second World War begins and after a brief spell at Sandringham, the princesses move to Windsor Castle (Buckingham Palace takes nine direct hits by bombs).

Aged 14 Princess Elizabeth makes her first public speech, on BBC radio, to the children of Britain and the Commonwealth, and two years later she undertakes her first solo public appearance.

In 1945 she joins the war effort with the Women’s Auxilary Territorial Service, training as a driver and mechanic.

Queen Elizabeth II receiving the homage of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at her Coronation in Westminster Abbey, London, in 1953Queen Elizabeth II receiving the homage of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at her Coronation in Westminster Abbey, London, in 1953

The engagement is announced in 1947 of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, and the couple marry in Westminster Abbey that November, 68 years ago. Their first son Prince Charles is born the following year, and their daughter Princess Anne in 1950.

King George’s health deteriorates, and February 1952, while Elizabeth and Philip are in Kenya, the King dies at Sandringham and the 25-year-old princess becomes Queen. Her coronation takes place in June 1953.

Shining a light:

Princess Elizabeth travelling in car down Gaol Hill in Norwich on June 18, 1951Princess Elizabeth travelling in car down Gaol Hill in Norwich on June 18, 1951

Around the county, individuals, communities and clubs will celebrate The Queen’s very special 90th birthday. She is the first reigning monarch to reach the milestone and it will be marked with events including the lighting of more than 700 beacons around the country.

So far, some 20 Norfolk communities have revealed plans to light a beacon in the Queen’s honour on the evening of her birthday, on April 21.

These include: Acle; Cromer; Downham Market; Fakenham; Felbrigg Hall; Gorleston; Holkham beach; Honing; Hunstanton; King’s Lynn; Lingwood; Norwich; Oxborough Hall; Hopton; Sheringham; Stokesby; Thetford and Thorpe St Andrew.

Beacons have long been used as a way of marking special royal events and in recent years they have become central to our celebrations once more, thanks to the efforts of Gorleston-based Pageantmaster and event coordinator Bruno Peek, who organised the lighting of thousands of beacons across the UK to mark the Millennum on New Year’s Eve, 1999, and The Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee.

Princess Elizabeth arrives in Norwich to a civic welcome at Thorpe Station after her journey aboard the Norfolkman Festival trainPrincess Elizabeth arrives in Norwich to a civic welcome at Thorpe Station after her journey aboard the Norfolkman Festival train

Sending good wishes:

Our sister newspaper the Eastern Daily Press will be publishing goodwill messages to The Queen from readers, which will be printed from April 18 as the nation counts down to Her Majesty’s 90th birthday on Thursday, April 21. For the chance to be included, send your message of about 150 characters to hmq@archant.co.uk

Princess Elizabeth visiting Edward and Holmes Ltd shoe factory during her trip to NorwichPrincess Elizabeth visiting Edward and Holmes Ltd shoe factory during her trip to Norwich

Don’t miss next month’s EDP Norfolk magazine when we will look back at more of The Queen’s visits to Norfolk and the story of her 90 years

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