Hardly anyone realizes nowadays that at the onset of the Second World War, all was pretty much lost.
Aside from the fact the countries which would eventually become the Allied Forces were woefully unprepared and pathetically outdated to even participate in a major conflict of global proportions (the United States was still using Cavalry horses as a form of valid defense in 1939), when war first broke, the United Kingdom was left entirely on her own to face the unstoppable machine of military might better known as Nazi Germany.
In 1940, Great Britain’s best ally, the United States, wouldn’t enter the boxing ring of warring nations for close to two more years when the events at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 would force America to choose sides and fight.
England’s closest geographical ally, France, was resolute with the British in fighting Germany, however just a few months after War was initially declared the French army would be completely surrounded via an unforeseen surprise attack by stealthy German land forces, resulting in that continental country’s total surrender to the Nazis and France being taken out of the War barely after it had just begun.
After the fall of France, the “sitting duck” British Isles were primed to be Mr. Hitler’s next trophy of conquered European territory, and everyone knew it.
Rather than uniting together in a blue-blooded show of solidarity when the Second World War got under way, the crowned heads of Europe instead got the jitters worse than the Cowardly Lion, himself. In other words, when the War first began every ruling monarch bailed European ship by high tailing it off the continent in the interest of strictly each of their royal selves.
Every monarch, that is, with the exception of those who were the most in danger’s way.
The summer and fall of 1940 will forever be remembered in Great Britain as “The Blitz”. Fully aware of England’s vulnerability by being left isolated on her own, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler decided to bring the axe of military dominion down upon the English swift and hard with the intent of Britain totally surrendering by enforced submission. For 57 consecutive nights initially and lasting until early 1941, the Nazi Luftwaffe flew across the English Channel and air bombed London and other key English cities.
With such destructive chaos and nightmarish terror raining down upon them every night, Hitler assumed the British would be brought to their knees and begging for surrender in no time.
But this was not destined to be.
As previously mentioned, every crowned head in Europe left the continent during that time, with the exception of England’s ruling monarchs, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
A decade earlier, no one would ever have imagined even the slightest possibility of George and Elizabeth becoming the royal rulers of Great Britain. But as Fate would have it, highly unusual events of an even higher karmic significance occurring around the Fire signed couple would permanently alter the lives of the man and his wife who were “never meant to be King and Queen”.
For starters, the Leo member of our Love Duo refused the yet-to-be-King’s proposal of marriage not once, but twice. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (Leo-like right down to her last name) wasn’t the least interested in being a member of any Royal Family since that would mean forfeiting the hope of having even the slightest shred of a normal life.
When she finally accepted the Prince’s third proposal, Elizabeth was content in knowing that at least as the Duchess of York she wouldn’t be put under the scrutinized pressure of the public’s constant eye as if she and her fiancé were next in line to the throne.
Little did she know.
The less that was required of Lady Elizabeth’s husband’s appearance in public the better, given the Prince’s highly unusual dilemma. The man stuttered. His stammering was so debilitating, it was generally understood among the Royal Family that the Prince could not, nor should not, ever speak in front of a gathered assembly of three or more people.
Following the death of King George V in 1936, the Prince’s elder brother, Edward was crowned King of England. A reign which lasted a mere 326 days.
King Edward VIII had fallen in love with an American divorcee named Wallis Simpson and informed Parliament that not only would he be taking her as his wife, but this non-English non-subject would be crowned Queen as well. Upon Parliament’s unanimous refusal of his shocking proposal, the newly crowned King proceeded to throw a royal hissy fit and abruptly abdicated the throne.
Thus making the Prince and Lady Elizabeth the next in line to be the King and Queen of England.
The first thing Elizabeth did as Queen Consort was to find some sort of working solution to her husband’s, now King George VI’s, severe stuttering and stammering problem whenever in public. Some of you may already be well versed in that particular royal venture, given it won the best Picture in 2010 along with Best Actor, a film entitled “The King’s Speech”.
Helena Bonham Carter plays the Queen Mum and Colin Firth is King George VI in the film which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2010, “The King’s Speech”
Fortunately, with the concentrated efforts of his tenacious Leonine wife and an outstanding speech therapist named Lionel Logue, the British people never had a clue their beloved King had any kind of speech impediment whatsoever by the time War broke.
And when War actually did break, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other top members of Parliament used their best powers of persuasion to convince the Royal Family to flee England as quickly as they could, to which the Queen replied:
“The children will not leave unless I do. I shall not leave unless their father does, and the King will not leave the country in any circumstances, whatever.”
Rather than leave their country and abandon their people, the Royal Family stayed put and endured the nightly horror of the Blitz bombings. King George, Queen Elizabeth, and their two young daughters (one of whom ended up being a royal ruler herself, England’s current monarch with the longest reign in British History, HRH Queen Elizabeth II) bravely sat among their subjects in the air raid shelters of London during the long and horrible months of 1940 as the German Luftwaffe attempted to break England’s will with their relentless attacks.
In September of that same year, the Nazi bombs got as dangerously close as possible to the royal couple’s physical persons when Buckingham Palace was hit resulting in its quadrangle being badly damaged with a burst water main, nearly every window being blown out, and its chapel being obliterated. Despite coming so close to being killed, Queen Elizabeth famously quipped,
“I’m glad we’ve been bombed. Now we can look the East End in the face.”
Following some of the worst nights of bombing, George and Elizabeth would go into immediate action as soon as it was safe to emerge from the air raid shelters by publically appearing at the areas hardest hit by the Nazi attacks in a show of solidarity with their subjects to boost national morale. In true dramatic Leonine flair, whenever viewing the devastation Queen Elizabeth was seen dressed to perfection in her best furs alongside her optimistically congenial Sagittarian husband, King George, as they visited numerous factories, hospitals, and schools nearly decimated by the Blitz throughout London’s East End.
As the seventh picture in this article’s photo album poignantly shows, London’s blitz victims couldn’t help but be uplifted with nationalistic pride and sheer awe upon seeing the presence of their King and Queen before them for all the world to see.
Knowing what a powerful influence she had over her people as a national morale booster, Adolf Hitler himself described the lion-hearted Queen as “the most dangerous woman in Europe.”
It was King George and Queen Elizabeth’s bravery of being in action at their people’s side along with the optimism infused by the speeches of Sagittarians Winston Churchill and King George that the British people were able to cling to the thinnest of hopes and carry on, eventually triumphing victoriously over the forces of oppression that tried to annihilate their world as they knew it.
*Brad Kronen has written a book about “the most dangerous woman in Europe” and the crucial role she and her family played during one of England’s darkest moments – the Blitz. Entitled “For King & Country: The Wartime Windsors”, the book is available for purchase on amazon.com. Click on the image of the Royal Family in stained glass to see an entire listing of Brad’s published work: