Queen Elizabeth was ‘born in a townhouse’ and ‘not born to be Queen’

Queen's funeral: The coffin is carried towards Westminster Abbey

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On September 19, King Charles III, accompanied by Queen Camilla lead the Royal Family, the country, and the world in paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II following her death on September 8 at the age of 96. There has been an outpouring of grief for Her Majesty as the longest-reigning British monarch. Although the Queen has been a constant for the past 70 years, devoting her life to the service of the British people, she was not born to be Queen, and even came into the world in a London townhouse. 

Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her grandfather, King George V, who is thought to have called her by her nickname, “Lilibet”, and whom she called “Grandpa England”. 

Her father, Prince Albert, was the second son of the King and it was therefore expected for his elder brother, Edward to become King.  

Historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook, speaking on their joint podcast, The Rest is History, discussed how both her grandfather and father were great influences on the late Monarch. 

Mr Sandbrook said: “All the stuff about duty and service and all those things, it is really George V who instituted those, that as the sort of the guiding mantra of the institution…

“But George V, his boringness, what we would now call his boringness, was his great asset at the time of political turbulence. 

“And I think his son, Albert, comes to emulate that when he becomes King and obviously he is a massive influence on the late Queen.” 

But although her predecessors were of great influence on the Queen, Mr Sandbrook and Mr Holland argue that while Her Majesty was in line to the throne, she was not born to be Queen, in fact, she was not even born in a palace. 

The Queen’s birthplace was 17 Bruton Street, the home in Mayfair of her maternal grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. Her parents had moved into the London townhouse just a few weeks prior to her birth. 

Mr Holland noted: “She’s brought up in a kind of townhouse. I mean, Piccadilly – it’s not exactly a slum! But…here would have been no [immediate prospect of becoming queen when [she was born].

Royal Historian Robert Lacey told the BBC in December last year: “It’s a reminder of how the Royal Family was not as flush in those days. Money was an issue.”

The house was later demolished and turned into an office and retail complex, although it was previously thought it had been bombed during the Blitz. 

Her Majesty was third in the line of succession, as, at the time of her birth, she was the daughter of the then King’s younger son. 

Speaking in the podcast, Mr Sandbrook noted that the young Elizabeth was “not born to be queen”. 

Mr Holland added: “There [was] a sense that she [will become Queen], there’s a possibility there. And she is George V’s first grandchild, he used to kind of crawl around on the floor and she would pull him by his beard.”

Mr Sandbrook then explained that the Queen was very close with her grandparents as her parents had left her with them and her nurse as they embarked on an Imperial Tour in 1927 with her grandfather writing to her father, sending updates on the Queen’s progress. 

The Queen’s grandfather, himself the grandson of Queen Victoria, had not expected to become Monarch too. Like the Queen, he was third in the line of succession. 

After his death in 1936, King Edward VIII became King, however, his reign turned out to last less than a year. 

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King Edward VIII wished to marry American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, and so he abdicated as the Church of England did not allow divorced people to remarry. 

Then, the Queen’s father, George VI became King until 1952 when he died in his sleep at Sandringham House, Norfolk. 

Although she was not necessarily born to rule, the Queen’s father knew that as King, it meant his daughter would one day have to succeed him and he reportedly asked her to write an account of his coronation, to prepare her for what was to come. 

Queen Elizabeth II then took to the throne on June 2, 1953, when she was just 27 years old. 

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