Elizabeth II, also known as the Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, is the last surviving head of state from World War II. I didn’t know about this as I stumbled on a picture of the longest-reigning monarch and started to dig into this story.
In this article, I’ll tell you when, how, and what she did in the Second World War.
Background Info About World War II
World War II was the amalgamation of several initially separate military conflicts fought on a global scale from 1939 to 1945 between two alliances: the Axis and the Allies.
In Europe, troops of the German Wehrmacht and SS invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.
The governments of the United Kingdom and France allied with Poland responded on September 3, 1939, with a declaration of war on Germany, fulfilling the Anglo-French declaration of assistance issued in March 1939.
The most dramatic expansion of the conflict occurred on June 22, 1941, with the German attack on the Soviet Union.
The Bombing Campaign of Nazi Germany
The German army started bombing the British cities in September 1940 because the British had bombed the German capital city of Berlin. These very heavy bombs and destroyed hundreds of buildings. For eight months, the Nazi German army strategically attacked Britain.
On September the 13th, the Nazis bombed Buckingham palace, and of course, the Royal family was evacuated, right? No! King George and his wife, Elizabeth, remained at Buckingham Palace in solidarity with those in the middle of the Blitzkrieg (“Lightning War”).
This caught a lot of media attention, and the king and queen also visited many destroyed areas in the country, especially in London.
Young Princess Elizabeth II During the War
The young princess was only 13 years old at the time. She and her sister were evacuated. Elizabeth and her sister were sent to Windsor castle to stay safe from the bombing attacks of Nazi Germany.
In Windsor Castle, the princess addressed the children of the nation. She hoped she could boost the country’s morale, especially the children who were taken away from their parents to stay safe during the war.
Throughout the war, Princess Elizabeth did some campaigning to keep the nation motivated and to stay positive in these hard times.
She Joined the Military at 16 Years Old
When Elizabeth turned 16 years old, she joined the military like most young people from Britain. She inspected a regiment, and when she turned 18, she wanted to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service.
During the war, unmarried women under 30 had to join the army by joining the armed forces or working somewhere else to serve the country.
Elizabeth started low-ranked, just like any other woman, and she was promoted quite quickly to a rank now equivalent to Captain.
In 1945, Elizabeth started her mechanical training, and on April 14th, she qualified for the driving and maintaining a vehicle course. And if you think these jobs were not dangerous, you’re mistaken. A lot of women were killed, and even more were injured.
The End of the War
The Second World War ended on May the 8th in 1945. As everybody in London went to the streets to celebrate the victory, the king and queen addressed the nation from the balcony at Buckingham Palace. The princess and her sister went into the crowds to celebrate.
Today, she is probably the most powerful woman — and even person — in the world as she is in command of all the British forces.