So this year Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday. Or rather birthdays, as while her actual birthday is today, 21 April (she was born in 17 Bruton Street at 2.40am on 21 April 1926), her formal birthday with all the pomp and ceremony is on the second Saturday in June. This year there will be a weekend of celebrations, such as the Patron’s lunch on Sunday 12 June.
But as the title says – what was said and what happened on the day itself? Using our online newspaper archives it is possible to have a glimpse of the news as it would have been read by the people of 1926.
First of all, the time of the then Princess Elizabeth’s birth was important for the daily newspapers. Normally an event which occurred on the 21st would be reported on the 22nd once it has had a chance to be written and printed. However, because the event took place so early in the morning it made it into the headlines of the day!
Check the Times Digital Archive to see how the news was reported (log in with your library card number). You could limit your searches to just 21 and 22 April, or simply browse through each day’s newspaper. Then take a look at some of the other papers, for example The Guardian – different publications can give you different types of story and varying headlines. Some, such as The Daily Mirror (available through UK Press Online), will have pictures.
Think about your search terms; which words will you use? Try out different ones. Remember that the baby born that day had not yet been named, was not yet Queen or even the heir to the throne. Here are a few tips for possible keywords: granddaughter, daughter, birth, Duchess of York, and royal are just a few.
From my searches I discovered that The Times managed to get an announcement into its 21 April ‘News in Brief’ section, and the next day mentions that the princess is third in line for succession to the throne (an important fact, as we would find out later on).
The Daily Mirror provides us with a front page image and headline the day after the birth. Disappointingly there is not much from the Illustrated London News but there are one or two images. The Guardian also provides a picture and headlines “The birth of a princess” and also reminds us that she is “The King’s first granddaughter”.
Lots of stories to explore! Why not go further and see what is written about each of the birthdays and life events over her 90 years? You can read more in one of the many books featured in our new book list celebrating the Queen’s birthday (pictured above), and find dates and events to then research in the newspapers. Be imaginative with your search terms; you never know what you might discover!