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RAF Flies Over Buckingham Palace, Evokes Memory of WWII

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee reached a peak today as a carriage procession carried the royal family from Westminster to Buckingham Palace, where the Royal Air Force flew over amid celebratory rounds of rifle fire from the ground.

Back in 1940, Elizabeth was a young princess when it was another air force that was flying over Buckingham Palace, and the response from the ground was not celebratory. The Germans bombed the Palace, where the King and his family were sheltering. When it was suggested that they be secretly transported to a safer haven, perhaps Canada or the U.S., her mother (also Elizabeth) made her famous reply:

“The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave the King. And the King will never leave.”

They stayed in London through the Blitz — and that kind of dedication to duty is the main reason why the Queen still lives there today.


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  • thibaud

    Equally famous was Queen Mary’s pre-blitz determination to keep Churchill out of office, as that would have disturbed her family’s campaign for appeasement.

    Kind of odd to see such idolatry from an historian who prides himself on castigating people who batten on the public purse, no?

    Here’s a more accurate account of the Queen Mum’s behavior in the late 1930s vis-a-vis the fascist threat:

    “The tabloid-and-tapestry view of the matter depends, as usual, on pretending that important moments in British history never actually occurred. In other words, we will be treated to innumerable photographs of her waving from the balcony of the palace, on VE day, on the Queen’s last jubilee and on her own centennial.

    “But nobody will care to reproduce the picture of her first appearance outside those famous windows, which was the occasion of the welcome given to Neville Chamberlain on his return from Munich.

    “The prime minister’s capitulation to Hitler received the royal warrant, in public, in front of cheering crowds, before he had to submit himself to the inconvenience of explaining himself to parliament.

    “The court historian John Grigg (formerly Lord Altrincham) did not exaggerate when he described this as ‘the most unconstitutional act by a British sovereign in the present century’.

    “Nor was the Queen a mere hand-waving accessory to her husband in this conciliation of the Nazis. Philip Ziegler, official biographer of Edward VIII and a man with his own “access” to the Queen Mother, records that she was an enthusiastic seconder of the King’s long campaign first to retain Chamberlain or, in default of that, to make the even more reactionary Lord Halifax prime minister, and at any cost to keep Churchill out of office.

    “In other words, if the sweet old lady had had her way, there would have been no “finest hour” for her to illumine; no opportunity of touring bombed-out East Enders and pearly queens; no victory parades or regimental colours for her to patronise. In claiming credit for the spirit of the blitz, the now-anglicised house of Windsor was flaunting the medals of a defeat.”

  • Kris

    So, thibaud, is the main charge against the Royals the fact that they supported Chamberlain, the democratically elected Prime Minister, and gave the appearance of support for his popular policies? I can’t overstate my opposition to Chamberlain and appeasement, but as entertaining as Hitchens could be, I much prefer Churchill’s attitude.

    Oh, and Hitchens very conveniently leaves out a certain piece of information which could provide an alternate explanation for the Royals’ alleged attitude towards Churchill.

    (By the way, “Queen Mary”?)

    (For what it’s worth, I don’t particularly care about the Royals, and my favored political system is a constitutional republic. But Happy Jubilee to the Queen.)

  • Corlyss

    @ thibaud

    Hitchens at his most curmuggeonly.

    What did Hitch expect the sovereign to do? Disagree with Chamberlain when the bargain the royals have with the people and the government is that they will stay out of politics?

    As we all know, history didn’t stop with Chamberlain’s disgraceful pact. When the facts changed, maybe the royals changed what policy they supported.

  • Maid Abusing Socialist

    Yeah, all this jubilee cheering is creepy. If not de facto anti-Americanism, what is it?

    At any rate, the queen and her hanger-ons do perfectly represent much of contemporary Europe– greedy, indolent half-wits sucking off the public trough while gagging to wallow in the celebrity eye. The inbreeding, however, does set them apart.

  • john haskell

    It woud be more accurate to say that the Queen still lives there today because the English Channel is wet… but even the Dutch, Danes and Belgians still have royals, without an RAF or an English Channel.

  • Cunctator

    #1 thibaud – all that you write is undeniably true. But are you not foregtting that the choice in those years appeared to be between Chamberlain (a strong leader who had a distinguished record as a minister in several portfolios) and those like Churchill who seemd to be advocating a war that no one wanted out of fear that the devastation of 1914-1918 would happen again?

  • Tom Richards

    #5 – I think the implication was more that without such behaviour, the UK would long since voluntarily have become a republic.

  • thibaud

    Public sector unions that sponge off the public purse: bad.

    Hereditary families that leech billions off the public and consort with fascists: good.

  • thibaud

    Re. Chamberlain, you’re all missing the point: the Windsors did their level best to KEEP CHURCHILL OUT of power.

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