Inside Elizabeth's loving childhood and how she perfected her royal wave from an early age | The Sun

QUEEN Mary took the news well when she was told that her new grandchild was a girl.

“The sex, mercifully in this case, does not matter,” she wrote in a letter.

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York was never expected to reign.

But in fact that tiny baby with her cowlicks of pale hair was destined for a level of fame that eclipsed that of the great rulers of history.

Her image would imprint coins, stamps and even the nation’s dreams.

At the time, her arrival at 2.40am on April 21, 1926, was not momentous news.


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Officially, of course, she was born third in line to the throne behind her uncle the Prince of Wales and her father ­Bertie.

But as the dynastically minded Queen Mary — formidable wife of George V — recognised, the baby Princess was virtually certain to be supplanted by a child of the still-unmarried Prince of Wales, or a son born subsequently to her parents.

After all, her mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was only 25. There was plenty of time for a boy.

And this meant that with no great destiny looming to worry about, the new young parents could get on with just falling in love with their firstborn.

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For Bertie and Elizabeth — “such a sweet little couple and so fond of one another” — their daughter’s birth brought a new level of joy into an already happy marriage.

Bertie had met Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1920 and they were married in April 1923.

She was the daughter of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, and the choice of a non-royal wife was considered rather modern at the time.

The couple, now the Duke and Duchess of York, moved into her parents’ London townhouse at 17 Bruton St, Mayfair, and that is where Elizabeth was born by caesarean section.

Messengers conveyed the news to the King and Queen, while a telegram was despatched to the Prince of Wales in Biarritz.

Queen Mary and George V arrived at Bruton St on that afternoon to meet the new arrival.

In her diary that night, the Queen described her first granddaughter as “a little darling with a lovely complexion and pretty fair hair”.

The christening took place in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace on May 29.

Queen Mary noted afterwards: “Of course poor baby cried.”

That same month, the first images of the Princess were released to the Press, with two photos also made available as postcards.

Then, at seven months old, Elizabeth suffered the usual fate of royal babies — being left at home while her ­parents set off on a foreign tour, in this case to Australia.

But she seems to have enjoyed her time staying with her grandparents on both sides.

She was reported to amuse herself by “pulling handfuls of fluff” out of the thick coats of family dogs, and by “giving shrieks of delight at each dog she saw” on car journeys.

When the Duke and Duchess finally got back to London, they moved into their first family home of their own at 145 Piccadilly.

Described at the time as “incongruously ­modest”, it did have, as an estate agency noted, “about 25 bedrooms”.

Elizabeth would live there until she was nearly 11 years old.

The new house was next to Hyde Park and Elizabeth’s outings there with her nurse were greeted with huge public interest.


One American columnist described how “she lifts up her little hand” to greet the crowds. A long career of waving had begun.

Her every move featured in the Press, too. Nothing in her life was too trivial for publication — her appearance, car sickness, taste for ­toffee or enjoyment of splashing in puddles.

It was a new age for royal children. As Elizabeth’s uncle the Prince of Wales, known to the family as David, realised, his generation had had a different start to life.

He noted: “Because our likenesses seldom appeared in the Press, we were not often recognised on the street.”

Now postcards, cinema newsreels and, above all, photographs in newspapers and magazines lessened Elizabeth’s chances of anonymity.

By the age of four the Princess had even inspired a new exhibit at Madame Tussauds, seen astride a model of new Shetland pony Peggy.

This was also the year Elizabeth got a sibling. If it had been a boy, he would have supplanted her place as third in line to the throne.

But the baby, born on August 21, 1930, was of course a girl, who was named Margaret Rose.

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This time, the Duke expressed his disappointment, writing to his wife: “I would have liked a boy and you would too, I know.”

It pointed to the couple’s tentative awareness of the possibility that responsibility for the next royal generation lay with them.

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