Accession of Elizabeth II (6 February 1952)

  February 7, 2009 at 3:23 am by

February 6th marks the 57th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to her Throne.

View the image at V&A Prints

The Accession of The British Sovereign is a rare and detailed procedure.”The King is dead, long live The King” may summarise the process but it is only the tip of the iceberg. While there is no interregnum and the crown passes immediately to the Late Sovereign’s Successor, there is a series of events and protocols to be adhered to on this auspicious occasion.

Her present Majesty acceded while in Kenya, staying at Treetops. All attempts to inform The Princess Elizabeth of her accession failed until a journalist picked up a broadcast from London, thus beginning the process of returning the new Queen to her realm.

On arrival in London The Queen was met at Heathrow by her Government and was driven to Clarence House. Queen Mary then arrived to curtsey and kiss her new Queen’s hand; Lilibet was said to be horrified, but Queen Mary, ever the stickler for protocol and correct form, knew that it was the proper recognition of her Sovereign.

The first act after the accession is for the Sovereign to attend the Accession Council in St. James’s Palace. The Queen pledged to do her duty and continue to govern in the manner of her late Father; she also swore to uphold the Church of Scotland, a tradition and legal obligation since 1603.

The Accession was then proclaimed from the balcony of Frairy Court by Garter King of Arms using the following formula:

WHEREAS it has pleased Almighty God to call to his mercy our late Sovereign Lord King George VI, of blessed and glorious memory, by whose Decease the Crown is solely and rightfully come to the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary:
WE, therefore, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of this Realm, being here assisted with these His late Majesty’s Privy Council, with representatives of other Members of the Commonwealth, with other Principal Gentlemen of Quality, with the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of London, do now hereby with one Voice and Consent of Tongue and Heart publish and proclaim, That the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary is now, by the death of our late Sovereign of happy memory, become Queen Elizabeth II by the Grace of God, Queen of this Realm, and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, to whom Her Lieges do acknowledge all Faith and constant Obedience with hearty and humble Affection, beseeching God by whom Kings and Queens do reign, to bless the Royal Princess, Elizabeth II, with long and happy Years to reign over us.

God Save The Queen.

The National Anthem was then sung by the assembled crowd and three cheers for Her Majesty were given. At the same time across the Kingdom and Commonwealth, from Town Halls, Cathedrals, Army Barracks, Embassies and Naval Ships, the accession was proclaimed.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3aNgtB9bNg&feature=channel_page

With these ceremonies observed, the members of the House of Commons and the Lords began to retake their oaths of allegiance to their new Queen.

The obligations of the accession aside, the Nation then began to mourn their late King and his funeral preparations were put into action…

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Related posts:

  1. Death of George VI (6 February 1952)

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