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British RoyalsHistoryThe Queen

The Royal Family marks 80 years since The Queen’s first broadcast

The Queen, 1943
By Yousuf Karsh - [1] Dutch National Archives, The Hague, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl, Wiki Commons

Public speaking has become second nature to The Queen since her first speech, 80 years ago. On October 13th 1940, the then Princess Elizabeth gave her first-ever radio broadcast at the age of 14 years old.

Sitting alongside her sister Princess Margaret, who was then 10, at Windsor Castle, the future Monarch addressed the children of Britain and the Commonwealth during World War II.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill asked the princess to give the speech to boost morale for the younger generation. At the time, many families had been separated and children were sent to the countryside to be protected from Nazi air raids. Some children were even sent as far as Canada, America, and Australia.

The young princess said during the BBC’s Children’s Hour program, “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.”

“To you, living in new surroundings, we send a message of true sympathy.”

The speech was considered a huge success and Elizabeth’s broadcast marked the beginning of a regular feature for child evacuees. Derek McCulloch was responsible for organizing the broadcast. In a 1946 edition of the Sunday Dispatch, he mentioned Elizabeth’s father King George VI was reluctant to put his young daughter on air but he was delighted with the result.

“The King rushed into the room after the first rehearsal exclaiming to me, “She’s exactly like her!” meaning the Princess’s voice was extraordinarily like that of the Queen, and everyone knows how excellently the Queen broadcasts.”

Since that first radio broadcast, The Queen’s speeches have become nearly as famous as the Monarch herself. Her annual Christmas Day speech typically sums up the year’s events and touches on issues important to the UK and the Commonwealth. Her 2019 Christmas speech drew an audience of 7.85 million.

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In a speech in April, The Queen spoke of her historic first broadcast 80 years ago as she made an extraordinary address as the coronavirus pandemic changed millions of lives.

“It reminds me of the very first broadcast I made, in 1940, helped by my sister. We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety. Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do.”

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.