70 Years Ago

British monarch HM Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, pictured in 1951. HM is wearing a priceless Cartier necklace, a wedding present from the Nizam of Hyderabad, a king in India. © Yousuf Karsh

The year 2022 represents the 70th anniversary of Elizabeth II ascending the throne of England. In the language of the media, it is her Platinum Jubilee.

I remember watching TV when Princess Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England. I was a seven-year-old boy at the time, and I was amazed that the pretty lady was so high and so mighty. And, no doubt about it, the young Queen Elizabeth II was a “looker.”

Even though now she is weighted down by the intervening years, and the tragedies that inevitably mar any long life. She had to deal with the deaths of Princess Diana and of her husband and consort, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

So I will choose to remember her as a pretty young lady. At the time, I was an avid stamp collector. Because of the young queen’s beauty, I was drawn to British colonial issues, which usually included at least an inset portrait of the queen, unless they went whole hog with the queen and her sister, as in the following South African stamp:

The above stamp actually predated the coronation by five years. Princess Margaret is the royal on the left. More typical is the Bahamas stamp shown below, which looks to be a 1950s issue:

Whatever happens in the next few years. the reign of Elizabeth II has been a real boon for England—even at a time when it was shedding its colonies. Perhaps, in the long run, the massive expense of the royal family will have been worth it for its symbolism alone.

British Colonials

“Richmond, Virginia, USA – June 18th, 2012: Cancelled Stamp From Jamaica Featuring Elizabeth II And The West Indies.”

1958 Jamaican Stamp Honoring the West Indies Federation

As a young lad, I was a devoted collector of stamps. All those countries, colonies, and protectorates fascinated me. And it was around then that the rush to independence began with the Gold Coast becoming Ghana in 1957. But all the newly independent states lacked one thing: The portrait of the young and beautiful monarch of Britain, Queen Elizabeth II.

Oh, I know that the Queen is approaching her 96th birthday, and she looks it, waddled in her neon-colored cloth coats and matching outfits. But at one time, Elizabeth was a real looker, such that I would look for televised broadcasts in which she appeared.

Bechauanaland Protectorate

The Bechuanaland Protectorate morphed into the independent nation of Botswana. When it became independent, it lost not only the queen, but its unpronounceable name.

I regarded Britain as cooler because it had such a cute queen. In contrast, when Germany had several colonies in Africa prior to the First World War, all they could display on their postage stamps was Kaiser Wilhelm’s yacht, the SMY Hohenzollern. B-o-r-i-n-g. I guess that’s why they lost their colonies in the war.

Just to give you an idea of just how cute the young Queen Elizabeth II really was, here is an old Pathé news video from YouTube: