Queen marks her accession at Sandringham

CHRIS BISHOP The Queen today marks the 55th anniversary of her accession to the throne in private on her Norfolk estate.She returned to Sandringham yesterday after a one-day official visit to the Netherlands.

CHRIS BISHOP

The Queen today marks the 55th anniversary of her accession to the throne in private on her Norfolk estate.

She returned to Sandringham yesterday after a one-day official visit to the Netherlands.

Princess Elizabeth became Queen when she was just 25, on the death of her father King George VI.

The King died peacefully in his sleep at Sandringham early on the morning of February 6, 1952.

George VI, a heavy smoker, survived a major operation to remove his left lung but later succumbed to a blood clot which caused a coronary thrombosis.

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The then Prime Minister Winston Churchill broadcast a tribute on the radio on the evening of 7 February, praising George VI for the "simple dignity of his life, his manly virtues, his sense of duty...his gay charm and happy nature".

The Queen had seen her father for the last time as he waved goodbye at London airport on January 31, 1952 when she and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, embarked on the first stage of a Commonwealth tour.

The new Queen was at Sagana Hunting Lodge, Nyeri, in the foothills of Mount Kenya, after spending the night in the Treetops hotel watching big game, when the news reached her.

The King is dead. Long live the Queen - with these words the nation, and the Commonwealth, mourned the death of George VI and heralded the coming of a new Elizabethan era.

A 41-gun salute will be performed by the King's Troop Artillery in Hyde Park and a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company.

The Queen will return to Buckingham Palace tomorrow after being in residence at Sandringham since before Christmas.