Just now, I am in London, England, experiencing a very poignant time in the history of this nation, the Commonwealth and the world. I am choosing to avoid current polarizing conversations, to capture for a moment a day in October 1940 when the young Princess Elizabeth, then heir to the throne, was just 14 years old. She made her first radio broadcast in this year, to express courage to the children of England who were experiencing the upheaval of war. Though I am certain she had assistance in writing this, I feel sure she must have had an important say in its content, as it is consistent with the messages she continued to relay for the rest of her life. Though most of us who did not live through the war cannot fully understand the relevance of such a broadcast, it is easy to understand how those who experienced the war as children and longed for reassurance and leadership in a time of immense emotional upheaval, leaned in to listen to this young figure who represented strength and courage and hope in the dark days of war. The image and following excerpt is from the IODE newsletter ‘Echoes’ Christmas 1940 edition:
The Princess Elizabeth Talks to the Children of the Empire
The voice of the King’s eldest, the Princess Elizabeth was clearly heard in her first broadcast on October 13th last. She spoke especially to the children who have travelled thousands of miles to find a war-time home, and thanked those who have given them sanctuary ‘for the duration.’ As daughters of the King and Queen, the Princess Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, with thousands of other British children, will continue to share the fear and danger of the bombs that are falling relentlessly in Britain.
“In wishing you all good evening, I feel that I am speaking to friends and companions who have shared with my sister and myself many a happy children’s hour. Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers. My sister, Margaret Rose, and I feel so much for you, as we know from experience what it means to be away from those we love most of all. To you living in new surroundings, we send a message of true sympathy, and at the same time we would like to thank the kind people who have welcomed you to their homes in the country.
All of us children who are still at home think continually of our friends and relations who have gone overseas, who have travelled thousands of miles to find a wartime home and a kindly welcome in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States of America.
My sister and I feel we know quite a lot about these countries. Our father and mother have so often talked to us of their visits to different parts of the world, so it is not difficult for us to picture the sort of life you are all leading and to think of all the new sights you must be seeing and the adventures you must be having. But I am sure that you, too, are often thinking of the Old Country. I know you won’t forget us. It is just because we are not forgetting you that I want, on behalf of all the children at home, to send you my love and best wishes to you and to your kind hosts as well.
Before I finish, I can truthfully say to you all that we children at home are full of cheerfulness and courage. We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying too, to bear our own share of the danger and sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well, for God will care for us and give us victory and peace. And when peace comes, remember, it will be for us, the children of today to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place.
My sister is by my side and we are both going to say goodnight to you. Come on, Margaret.”
Princess Margaret Rose: “Goodnight, children.”
Princess Elizabeth: “Goodnight, and good luck to you all.”
And now to you, 82 years later, Princess and then Queen, we say ‘Goodnight’.