Not all kings and queens are born in castles. And the monarch about to become the longest reigning of them all began her life in a house in a rather ordinary street in a very genteel part of London. The story of Victoria started in Kensington Palace. The tale of the woman about to take her record began at No 17, Bruton Street, Mayfair for that is where Elizabeth II was born. And from September 9th it is the beginning of a royal legend.
In the 1920s this now famous address was the London townhouse of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. Their residence in the capital had already featured in one famous royal story that decade when their youngest daughter, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, stepped through its door dressed as a bride on her way to her marriage to the Duke of York, second son of George V, on April 26 1923. Almost three years exactly from that happy day, it became even more important in the royal story of Britain.
Elizabeth, now Duchess of York, had done what many women do when expecting their first baby – she had gone home to mum. And she and her husband were living at 17 Bruton Street when she gave birth to their eldest child. Their daughter was delivered there by Caesarean section at 2.40am on April 21st 1926. She was third in line to the throne but no one expected her to reign. The little princess born that day was destined for a life on the royal sidelines until history intervened.
That’s not to say there was no interest in little Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. Weeks later she was snapped being carried out of 17 Bruton Street in the arms of her nanny while her proud mother walked ahead unable to keep the happy smile from her face. And that image is a reminder to us here, in the 21st century, that royal baby mania is nothing new. Photographers hung around Bruton Street waiting for a snap of little Princess Elizabeth.
Now, as she stands on the brink of history, the place where that royal baby caused a buzz in 1926 is just another street in Mayfair. Number 17 is now a restaurant called Haakasan and there is a plaque on the wall, placed there during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, to mark its place in royal history.
And it is about to become a very special place indeed. All stories have a start and the one that makes history tomorrow when Elizabeth II becomes our longest reigning monarch began in this street in Mayfair. Not all kings and queens are born in castles and Number 17 Bruton Street is about to stake a claim to fame no royal residence can rival.
Royal Central will have full coverage of the historic day when The Queen becomes our longest reigning monarch – join us on September 9th to celebrate.
Photo credit: Diane Griffiths via Flickr