The Enid Blyton Society
The Story of Our Queen
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Book Details...

First edition: 1953
Publisher: Frederick Muller
Illustrator: F. Stocks May
Category: Non-series Non-fiction
Genre: Royalty
Type: Non-Fiction Books

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Review by Terry Gustafson

In the multifarious world of Enid Blyton, a woman of note might be referred to as a High-Up Lady and there were also a few that held such titles as Lady Lucy or the Duchess of Fairholm and because of the wide range of subjects dealt with in the books, the Queen had to be mentioned at least once or twice.

Sure enough, a book was written all about Queen Elizabeth and her family and it appeared in 1953, which was of course, the Coronation year. It's written in the way Enid Blyton recites her tales - the first words being "Once upon a time," and it carries on in story fashion although it's a factual account.

Elizabeth was born into what could be labelled a Hallowed Family Circle and the "kindly bearded man" who came to visit his grandchild was of course, King George V. The full name given was Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, which is quite a mouthful, and eventually when she became a little girl, Elizabeth began calling herself "Lilibet."

Her father and mother were George and Elizabeth respectively and she had two grandmothers - Queen Mary, and the Countess of Strathmore.

When Elizabeth the child was four, a sister, christened Margaret Rose, joined the family.

"Her (Elizabeth's) heart was filled with joy and love. Where was her new sister? When would she see her? What could she take to her? She shall have some of my toys said the small Elizabeth, and she set about collecting a whole armful."

Well, we don't know much about that, but the style of presentation is reasonably conveyed.

Various aspects of the Royal life are touched upon. The sisters had "only" one shilling a week pocket money! They loved animals and had two dogs of their own - Dookie, and Jane. Their activities included pony riding, bicycling, swimming, and visits to such places as Bekonscot Model Village, the Tower of London, the British Museum, and the National Gallery and they even went for a ride on the tube!

In 1936 there was sad news as their much loved "Grandpa King" passed on, and then came a bolt from the blue when the children's Uncle Edward who should have picked up the reigns, chose not to. He wanted other things in life, so his brother George, Elizabeth's father, took over instead. Elizabeth was now next in line for an extremely important position.

"It must have been a solemn and frightening thought."

The family moved into one of London's landmarks, Buckingham Palace. Elizabeth joined the Girl Guides and accordingly became a Sea Ranger and then a Chief Ranger of the Empire.

There were visits to Windsor where the Royal equivalent of a country cottage, namely a castle, is situated. The family also had another castle in Scotland and a great big house in Norfolk called Sandringham, so they weren't short of comfortable accommodation.

A shadow descends over the land and we gather that war is beginning with the threat of bombs raining down on London. The princesses are sent to the family castle in Scotland but as it's a little far away, they're eventually moved again to where they can be with their parents.

"For five years that was a secret. Few people knew that their beloved little princesses were living safely during those war years within the great stone walls of stately Windsor Castle."

There was plenty for the young girls to do during the "black war years." Knitting, collecting salvage, and holding parties for children who had been sent into the country away from the bombs that were causing havoc. There was even stirrup-pump practice in case of fire. Enid Blyton tells us that she remembers the first broadcast given by fourteen-year-old Princess Elizabeth and at the end of it, a "breathless little Margaret" joined her sister and wished everyone a "Goodnight!"

Life went on with the princesses acting in pantomimes and Elizabeth was even made "Colonel of the Grenadier Guards" during the war. She also joined the A.T.S and besides driving army trucks, she even serviced them - changing wheels and taking down engines.

The war's end brought crowds flocking to the Palace to share an evening of rejoicing with the Royal Family who appeared on the balcony as is the custom, and then we skip through the years and find Elizabeth is now twenty-one and ready for a Prince to enter her life - "just as in the fairy tales." We all know who it was. Philip, "tall handsome and every inch a prince," claimed her as his bride.

The marriage took place and when two progeny arrived, they were christened Charles and Anne and, did you know (I'll bet you didn't), that Prince Charles took the salute at a ceremony known as Trooping the Colour in June of 1951 when the King was ill. Near the end of the book there's a picture of Elizabeth, clad in her regalia and riding on a horse, with Charles waving, or "saluting" her. The horse's name is Winston.
There was a trip to Canada and probably America as well seeing the President called her "The Fairy Princess." Another tour was planned for Australia and New Zealand, but first the Royals went for a short holiday to Kenya and it was there that some distressing news found its way.

"The King, Elizabeth's father, was dead. When his servant had gone to waken him that February morning, he was in too deep a sleep ever to wake again - his soul had slipped away with his dreams."

A "Queen" dressed in black returned to the shores of Britain to claim her place in history and the people were ready to witness the Coronation of Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
God Save the Queen!
The illustrations are in colour although some are two-tone in nature and the reproductions are "not bad." Possibly they were copied, with a little license, from photographs.

Some of the pictures look similar to photos found in books about the Royals but there are differences. The picture of the princesses at Bekonscot (in the book) has them with hats and slightly different coats from those featuring in a photo from "The Little Princesses" that was produced by Elizabeth and Margaret's nanny - Marion Crawford. The image of the princesses in their Coronation robes however looks quite similar to their appearance in an official family photograph (Crawfie's book) and interestingly, it was taken by none other than Dorothy Wilding who also produced the Enid Blyton portrait with which we're all familiar. On about the eighth page (they aren't numbered) there's an illustration of the princesses outside a Little House that was given to them by the people of Wales and it's a fairly good rendition. "Little House?" Well, I think it would comfortably accommodate a family of three, but then it's a Royal Little House!

Speaking again of pictures, it must have been a fascinating experience for any of the Royal children when they were hobnobbing with their mates at school and other venues, knowing that pretty well everyone around them would be carrying a relief-picture of their mother. That can be explained by the fact that every English coin and maybe those minted for all the Territories would contain such an image. This also would have applied to stamps as well so when letter writing took place at boarding school, the pupils would be sticking pictures of "My Mum" on their envelopes!

I looked at a photograph of Sandringham. It's a monstrous place and the Royal families of old could easily have become lost in the rambling edifice. One can only hope that the museum section takes up a good deal of the excess space seeing that Britons are presumably paying a couple of pennies a year on their income tax to keep the house and gardens up to scratch.

There's a book called "The Queen Elizabeth Family" that came out in 1951 and the ship in that story was of course named after Elizabeth and Margaret's mother.

Lady Lucy appeared in "Annie's Great Day" (EB's Book of the Year).

The Duchess of Fairholm visited Ellen's school in "EB's Happy Story Book."

I would have been very happy to receive 1/- a week pocket money in the days when the princesses were little.

How on earth could a Royal take a ride on the tube, which is the underground train that dashes back and forth underneath the streets of London? Did they disguise themselves? Perhaps they had their own personal carriage or two, and that might not be impossible because the London Post Office had a private underground railway for many years.

Bekonscot Model Village now contains a replica of Green Hedges, the house that Enid Blyton once owned.

The Story of Our Queen was serialized in the magazine that Enid Blyton wrote for us. Green Hedges, May 27th, 1953 - Dear Boys and Girls, Only a few days to Coronation Day! I wonder how many of you are going to see the Coronation Procession? Photographs are included, and the results of a competition were announced as well - the prize being seats for the Coronation Parade. Unfortunately the winner was unable to attend so the second in line received the privilege.

What are "stirrup-pumps?" Having heard mention of them when watching the Dad's Army sitcoms, a definition had to be located. It looks like they're hand-operated pumps for squirting water onto fires during the war.

A.T.S. stands for Auxiliary Territorial Service - naturally shortened to ATS.

Princess Elizabeth "taking down engines!" Could that be 100% true?

Another "secret" is revealed: - When the Royal Family were on the palace balcony and acknowledging the praise of the crowds, Elizabeth and Margaret sneaked out the back way with scarves over their heads and mingled! "Hardly anyone recognized them" apparently, but of course hardly means that a few people must have cottoned on ... and then what happened?

We were always expected to stand up when a filmstrip of the Queen flitted across the screen for a few seconds at the beginning of movies whilst the National Anthem was played. The picture of Elizabeth where Charles "takes the salute" is similar to that which we often saw, but there were variations.

You'd have to be a very trusted servant if you were allowed into the Royal Bed Chamber to wake the King!