Listen to 14-Year-Old Elizabeth Deliver Her First Speech to the British People During World War II

Queen Elizabeth II Delivers First Speech to British People

After being thrust onto the throne at the young age of 26, Queen Elizabeth II faithfully served her country for 70 years. During this time, she established herself as a stable head of the royal family. Even before she was crowned as monarch, however, Elizabeth displayed an inordinate amount of courage. In October 1940, when the U.K. was facing the Blitz in World War II, the 14-year-old princess delivered her very first heartfelt speech to the British people—13 years before she became queen. The recording of this momentous occasion can still be listened to today.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill was the one who initially urged the young Elizabeth to give the speech. At a time when so many British children were evacuated from cities and placed across the countryside and in distant countries for safety, he thought that hearing words from someone of similar age would provide comfort, and potentially inspire Americans to also join the war. However, before Elizabeth could approach the microphone, she underwent weeks of preparation, including numerous rehearsals and breathing exercises. Then, on October 13, 1940, during the BBC's Children's Hour, she spoke from a room in Windsor Castle. “Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers. My sister Margaret Rose and I feel so much for you as we know from experience what it means to be away from those we love most of all,” Elizabeth said. “To you, living in new surroundings, we send a message of true sympathy and at the same time we would like to thank the kind people who have welcomed you to their homes in the country.”

Although her youth is undeniable, Elizabeth delivered the speech with a familiar sense of calm and dignity that eventually defined her reign as queen. Her speech is intended to reach out to all of the displaced children, but especially those that were sent to Canada, New Zealand, the U.S., and other faraway destinations. “But I am sure that you, too, are often thinking of the Old Country. I know you won't forget us; it is just because we are not forgetting you that I want, on behalf of all the children at home, to send you our love and best wishes—to you and to your kind hosts as well,” she continues. “We know, everyone of us, that in the end all will be well; for God will care for us and give us victory and peace. And when peace comes, remember it will be for us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place.”

Scroll down to watch the video of Queen Elizabeth II's first speech.

In 1940, Queen Elizabeth II—at that point, a 14-year-old princess—delivered her first speech to the British people during the Blitz of World War II.

h/t: [Open Culture]

All images via YouTube.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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