Great Britain formally received a new monarch and Head of the Commonwealth on this day in 1952 when Elizabeth II was officially proclaimed Queen.
The Accession Council – the ceremonial body which formally announces a new monarch - had met on the morning of February 6 after the overnight death of King George VI to confirm the accession, but it was only made official by the Queen’s own declaration two days later.
Members of the Council, representatives from the Commonwealth and other dignitaries were present at St. James’ Palace to witness the new Queen make her personal declaration, along with her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
The couple had cut short a state visit to Kenya on learning of the king’s death and had only returned to Britain the day before, to be met by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, his cabinet and the Leader of the Opposition Clement Attlee.
With the proclamation, the Queen also became Head of State of Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Pakistan, as well as the Commonwealth realms.
She said: “My heart is too full for me to say more to you today than I shall always work, as my father did throughout his reign, to advance the happiness and prosperity of my peoples, spread as they are all the world over."
The coronation of Elizabeth II would not occur until June 2, 1953 as it was deemed inappropriate for a celebration to occur while the King was being mourned. The ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey, and was the first to be televised.