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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 03:22 GMT
The day the King died
King George VI and Prince Charles
Prince Charles was present the day his grandfather died
Though his health had been failing for some time, King George VI's death on 6 February 1952 came as a shock to many - including the new Queen on tour in Africa - as the news filtered out.

• 0000 GMT (approx.) Having retired to his rooms in Sandringham House at 2230 GMT - after a day's shooting - King George VI goes to bed in the very building where he was born in 1895.

Soon after falling asleep, the King suffers a coronary thrombosis, a fatal blood clot in his heart. He is 56-years-old.

• 0730 GMT Having received no reply to his knock, royal valet James MacDonald enters the King's room and finds his master's body.

PM Winston Churchill
"Bad News? The worst!" said Winston Churchill
Dr. James Ansell - "Surgeon Apothecary" to the royal household at Sandringham - is called and declares that the King is dead.

• 0845 GMT The late King's principal private secretary, Sir Alan Lascelles, telephones his assistant in London with the codeword for the monarch's demise.

"Hyde Park Corner. Go and tell Mr Churchill and Queen Mary [the King's Mother]," Sir Edward Ford is told.

• 0900 GMT (approx.) Sir Edward arrives at 10 Downing Street with "bad news" for the prime minister.

"Bad news?" says Churchill. "The worst!"

A cabinet meeting is called to discuss the constitutional issues arising from the monarch's death.

• 1045 GMT News agencies are permitted to release the official confirmation of George VI's passing.

"It was announced from Sandringham at 10.45am today, February 6 1952, that the King, who retired to rest last night in his usual health, passed peacefully away in his sleep earlier this morning."

• 1115 GMT The BBC's John Snagge is selected to break the news to radio listeners around the world.

The BBC's John Snagge
"This is London..." John Snagge broke the news
"This is London. It is with the greatest sorrow that we make the following announcement... "

 Click here to listen to the BBC's radio announcement of the King's death

• 1145 GMT With the telegram reportedly sent to Princess Elizabeth somehow lost, the heiress presumptive - touring Kenya - is unaware she has acceded to the throne.

The BBC's radio report is relayed to the remote Sagana Lodge - the farm given to Elizabeth as a wedding present by the Kenyan government. Prince Philip breaks the news to his 25-year-old wife.

When her father had died, the new Queen had been asleep high above ground in the famous Treetops Hotel, 20 miles from Sagana.

• 1200 GMT Flags across the nation are lowered to half-mast. Crowds begin to gather at London's royal residences. Diplomats make their way to Buckingham Palace and officially express their nations' condolences.

• 1200 GMT (approx.) Following an emotional walk in the grounds of Sagana Lodge with her husband, Queen Elizabeth II returns to her desk to compose telegrams cancelling the remaining engagements of her Commonwealth tour.

Arrangements are made for the royal entourage to begin the arduous journey from the Aberdare mountains back to London.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at their wedding
The newlyweds were on a Commonwealth tour
• 1400 GMT "It having pleased Almighty God to take His Mercy Our Late Most Gracious Sovereign Lord King George of blessed memory," Speaker Morrison suspends His Majesty's House of Commons.

Before the MPs adjourn, Prime Minister Churchill offers his condolences - noted down on sober, black-bordered pages in Hansard.

"We cannot at this moment do more than record the spontaneous expression of grief."

• 1400 GMT (approx.) The new Queen leaves for Nanyuki Airport, to catch the hastily arranged DC3 aircraft that will take her to the royal aeroplane.

Ordinary Kenyans reportedly line the roads calling: "Shauri mbaya kabisa" ("The very worst has happened").

• 1700 GMT The Accession Council meets at St James's Palace to draft the proclamation of Queen Elizabeth's sovereignty:

"By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith."

Queen Elizabeth returns to London
The new Queen returned from remote Kenya
The 150 Privy Councillors in attendance - in their scarlet and gold medieval costumes - sign the document in readiness for its public reading the following day from the palace's roof.

• 1900 GMT The House of Commons Speaker returns to his seat, having sworn allegiance to the new monarch. He begins to hear the oaths of the other members of the House.

• 1915 GMT The BOAC Argonaut carrying the royal party takes off from Uganda's Entebbe Airport for the overnight journey to London via Libya.

• 2143 GMT Oaths sworn, Queen Elizabeth's Parliament adjourns. Across the UK, theatres, cinemas, pubs and restaurants stand empty. The BBC suspends its entertainment programmes as the nation mourns.

Sir Edward Ford, private secretary to George VI
"I've got bad news for you, prime minister. The King is dead."

Remembering the day

Picture gallery
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