Royal SAVIOUR: How ‘film star’ Queen was used for Britain’s global charm offensive

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QUEEN Elizabeth II united the Commonwealth on her groundbreaking 1953 tour, reveals a royal documentary.

Queen Elizabeth II is one of the most travelled monarchs in history, and has made an impressive number of state visits during her reign. However, her very first tour as monarch was one of her most challenging and most crucial for the newly-formed Commonwealth. 2016 Amazon Prime documentary “Prince William: Royalty in my Family” looks back at the young Queen’s daunting first months as a new monarch.

The Queens tour of the Commonwealth in 1953 4 was groundbreaking Image Getty
The Queens tour of the Commonwealth in 1953 4 was groundbreaking Image Getty

The narrator reveals: “The nation was brimming with affection and hope for its new young queen.”

Her Majesty’s coronation in June 1953 was watched by millions of people worldwide.

The Queen took the decision, alongside Prince Philip, to televise the ceremony, against the wishes of Winston Churchill who worried that it would be unseemly.

At only 27, she “proved herself to be the perfect model of a modern monarch, and bore the immense burden of public expectation both gracefully and willingly”.

The Queen and Prince Philip in Bermuda in 1953 Image Getty
The Queen and Prince Philip in Bermuda in 1953 Image Getty

However, the documentary continues: “Despite the jubilation for the new queen, the British government believed some countries might drop out of the Empire.”

In 1947 India and Pakistan had achieved independence, followed in 1948 by Burma.

The Commonwealth, newly-formed in 1949, was in its infancy.

On this occasion, however, Prime Minister Winston Churchill recognised the star power of the Queen.

Playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, who traced the Queen’s footsteps on her Commonwealth tour, characterised Churchill’s thoughts as: “We’ve got this film star of a queen, let’s send her out on a global charm offensive.”

The Queen’s coronation tour, which she embarked on with Prince Philip in November 1953, took her across the Commonwealth, travelling 45,000 miles around 11 countries and five continents.

Her Majesty arrives in Tonga Image Getty
Her Majesty arrives in Tonga Image Getty

It was the biggest ever tour undertaken by a royal and took the Queen six and a half months to complete.

Her Majesty had only been on the throne for six months at the time, and had to leave her two young children Prince Charles and Princess Anne at home.

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