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The first Queen's speech ever broadcast was in Windsor
The Queen and Princess Margaret
Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret recorded their first ever broadcast in Windsor in 1940.

By Emma Midgley
BBC Berkshire reporter

The Queen's speech is as much a part of Christmas as mince pies, tinsel and a turkey dinner.

2010 will see the 70th anniversary of the Queen's first ever broadcast from Windsor Castle, which was addressed to children living away from home because of World War II.

The 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth made the radio address on October 13 1940 during Children's Hour.

Her broadcast marked the beginning of a regular feature for children evacuees.

The Princess said during the broadcast "All of us children who are still at home think continually of our friends and relations who have gone overseas - who have travelled thousands of miles to find a wartime home and a kindly welcome in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States of America."


The Queen's first public speech

Documents stored at the BBC Written Archives in Caversham reveal the background and the reaction to the Queen's first ever broadcast speech.

Derek McCulloch, nicknamed Uncle Mac, was the man responsible for arranging the Princess Elizabeth broadcast.

According to a contemporary report in the Daily Mirror, he 'besieged' the management of the BBC to find out if permission would be given.

The Queen's speech marked the start of a monthly series of features on Children's Hour dedicated to children in war time.

These included messages from parents and brothers and sisters to children who had gone to live in America.

The Daily Mirror wrote on 9 October, 1940: "When Uncle Mac thought of starting a new service for the children who had been evacuated to Canada, America and Australia, he decided at once that Princess Elizabeth was the one person to introduce this once-a-week feature of the Children's Hour.

"The Princess has never broadcast before but this did not deter Uncle Mac.

"He besieged the big noises in the BBC and when they wondered whether permission would be given, he turned his attention to the Ministry of Information, and pointed out how appropriate such a broadcast would be."

The King agreed, despite concerns that Princess Elizabeth was too young.

Writing in a 1946 edition of the Sunday Dispatch, Derek McCulloch remembered that, 'the Princess never made a wrong inflection but gave a perfect broadcast.

'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.'

The broadcast by the young Princess from Windsor Castle was a huge success.

A telegram from Gerald Cock says the broadcast was a 'huge success'

Gerald Cock, who was the the North American representative of the BBC in New York, sent a telegram, which said, "Princesses yesterday huge success here. Some stations report telephone exchanges jammed with requests for repeat."

In the days following the Princess' first broadcast, the Canadian correspondent in the Times reported that churches had installed 'wirelesses' in order to hear the Queen's speech in Canada and news agency Reuters reported that hundreds of children in Wellington, New Zealand and in the United States tuned in.

The Star reported that following the Princess Elizabeth broadcast, which ended with the phrase 'Come on Margaret,' children had adopted 'Come on Margaret' as their catchphrase across Britain.

The Princess was not to make another broadcast until 1944.

Queen Elizabeth's Windsor connections

The Queen grew up in Windsor during the war, and newspaper reports of the time suggest that for this reason she thought of it as her home.

When the future Queen became the first woman to be given the title of Freeman of the Borough in 1947, she described Windsor as 'very dear to me'.

"Indeed I regard it as a home in a way no other place can be, and I come here today as a citizen of Windsor," she said.

The Sunday Express wrote on 6 April, 1944, as Princess Elizabeth came of age: "Her favourite recreation is to ride in the park at Windsor with her father."

A carriage in Windsor Great Park
Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret Rose in Windsor.

Another contemporary publication wrote that Princess Elizabeth's first outing as a Guider, suggested for one of the Patrol's summer meetings "a rally in Windsor Great Park, finishing with an al fresco meal, for which Guides and Brownies should fry sausages over a wood fire."

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