Today, exactly 70 years ago, the Queen and Prince Philip embarked on a royal tour in place of her father George VI and were waved off from London Airport – and it turned out to be a highly significant moment
Later this year, a bumper bank holiday weekend of celebrations will pay tribute to the Queen’s incredible 70-year reign.
A host of big events will take place during the first weekend in June to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.
However, she officially became monarch in February of 1952 after the sad death of her beloved father George VI.
The 70th anniversary of his death is on Sunday, February 6. However, today is also a heartbreaking anniversary for the Queen.
That’s because January 31, 1952, was the last time she saw him before he passed away – and when she returned to the UK, she was Queen.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
On that cold blustery day exactly 70 years ago today, the Queen, who was then Princess Elizabeth, and the late Prince Philip were at London Airport to embark on a huge royal tour of the Commonwealth.
Also at the airport was the King as well as the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, who waved the royal couple off as they boarded a plane for the first leg of their journey to Nairobi, Kenya.
Popperfoto via Getty Images)
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And not only was it the last time she saw her father, it was also the last public appearance of George VI.
Just days later, he died in his sleep at Sandringham and the then Princess Elizabeth became the Queen.
Popperfoto via Getty Images)
The incredibly sad news eventually made its way to Kenya, where Prince Philip broke it to the Queen that her father had passed away.
Ever aware of her public duty, Elizabeth immediately discussed the practicalities of her return to England.
The royal party then traveled back to London on the royal BOAC Argonaut, stopping to refuel in Libya.
Her staff also realised her mourning outfit had already been sent on by plane to the next stop on her royal tour.
When the royal plane touched down in London, a black dress was brought on board for her to change into before she emerged to the full glare of the press and public. On the tarmac waiting to greet her were dignitaries including Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Currently, the Queen is spending time at Sandringham, staying in Wood Farm, where her late husband Prince Philip spent the later years of his life.
The couple lived apart in the final years of his life, with the Duke of Edinburgh based at Wood Farm while the Queen stayed at Buckingham Palace. She would regularly travel up to see him when she didn’t have engagements.
And this year, the anniversary of her father’s death will be especially emotional for the Queen this year.
Not only will it be 70 years since his passing, it will be the first time she has marked his death without her beloved Philip by her side following his death aged 99 last April.