Britain is a better place todayby Simon Jenkins / May 25, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
In 1945 the future Queen served as a mechanic and driver. Since her accession to the throne in 1952, Britain’s GDP has increased fourfold
My memory of the Queen’s coronation in June 1953 is still vivid. In February the previous year we had been summoned to school assembly to be told of the death of George VI, greeted with what we assumed were “compulsory” tears. Elizabeth, then 25, acceded to the throne immediately, the event commemorated by this year’s jubilee. I watched the later coronation on a neighbour’s new television. It seemed a distant tribal ritual in which overdressed priests fussed round the sacrifice of a 27-year-old maiden in a strange hat.
My overwhelming recollection of the 1950s is of continuity and security. On the classroom wall was a map liberally painted red. Great Britain was a world power that had just triumphed— “alone” so it was implied—in an epic war against evil Germans. Movies and magazines depicted nothing else. Churchill’s Tories were back in power. All was in its rightful place. On the morning of the coronation it was announced, as if inevitable, that a British expedition had conquered Mount Everest.