The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: Becoming Queen – Elizabeth was calm and organised
Her father was dead and Prince Philip called her aside to break the news!
ADAPTED BY FRANK MORRIS
Princess Elizabeth was with her husband on a safari holiday, staying at Treetops Hotel in Kenya, when her father died suddenly from a heart attack, on February 6, 1952.
She was literally up a tree enjoying the sight of an elephant and its two calves when Prince Philip called her aside to break the terrible news.
It was a huge shock and one which transformed her life overnight. But Elizabeth remained reportedly calm and organised, apologising to her host that her stay would be cut short.
On February 11, 1952, George VI was transported in a long funeral procession to lie in state in London’s Westminster Hall; and then, on February 15, the casket was taken to Westminster Abbey for a service, and to St George’s Chapel, Windsor, for interment.
At 2pm, the entire Commonwealth came to a halt with a two-minute silence. While in London, solemn, bereaved crowds bowed their heads, incredulous that they had lost their 56-year-old King so young.
Yet the business of monarchy needed to go on. The King was dead. Long live Queen Elizabeth II.
While she was certainly young, if any 25-year-old could take on this challenge it was the serious-minded Elizabeth. The coronation took place 16 months later, following an official year of mourning. And, in her 1952 Christmas message, the new Queen prepared the nation.
“At my coronation next June, I shall dedicate myself anew to your service. I shall do so in the presence of a great congregation, drawn from every part of the Commonwealth and Empire … to pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making … I shall faithfully serve Him and you all the days of my life.”
[Women’s Weekly – Souvenir Edition: Queen’s Elizabeth II, 60 Glorious Years. $9.95.]
Coming: Razzle Dazzle Olympics – Reporting on the Games for the next few weeks; Australia At War – The book censor in coming!; Great Kiwi First: Movie magazines are here; Short Story – Bruno and Alice are back; Flashback: Spent l5 years in gaol, now inmate told “no”.
Flashback: Elvis Presley – 45 years on, the legend lives
It’s 45 years since the undisputed King of Rock n’ Roll died at Graceland, his famous Memphis home. Sadly, his health deteriorated due to his dependence on drugs and alcohol.
By the time of his death he was grossly overweight and obviously ailing. But it is a measure of his greatness that we still pay homage to the King of Rock today.
ADAPTED BY FRANK MORRIS
When Elvis first passed on at Graceland, Memphis, a spokesperson said that the fan letters started to arrive. The writers all refer to Elvis as though he was alive. “We receive hundreds the each year just like it, it’s remarkable”, said the spokesperson.
Here’s an example -- “Dear Elvis … I was wondering when you are going to come out of hiding? If you just drop me a line to say you are well, that will be fine. I know deep down that you’re alive.”
A faithful fan, one of many, who refuses to believe The King is Dead.
It could all disappear tomorrow -- the memorabilia industry, the succession of tacky films, and the debate over on whether he was a drug addict. “But Elvis Presley, said an Australian columnist, Anthony O’Grady, “would still be revered as the world’s greatest rock and roller.”
“His secret was simple – his voice. He could have been an operatic light baritone, he could have rivalled Sinatra or Tony Bennett, he could have starred on Broadway. But then he turned to rock and roll, and there has been nothing like him before or since.
“Part of it was an accident.
“Like The Beatles after him, Presley coincided with a youth revolution. With The Beatles, in 1964, it was the post-war baby boom. With Presley, in 1956, it was post-war
teenagers overturning parental values.
“That’s when Elvis came in and changed the game forever.
“Within six months of cutting Heartbreak Hotel, he’d sold eight million records and worked up to 10,000 fan letters a week. By the end of l957, he’d become a $20 million industry.
“Elvis opened the door for black music,” says Little Richard.
Richer, stronger voice
“When he sung Blue Suede Shoes in 1957, it became the first teenage anthem of materialism, and the idea has been central to popular music ever since.
“In 1960 he appeared with Frank Sinatra on TV … and there was Elvis, establishment superstar.
“From then on, for the next eight years, his time became his own: he settled on two movies per year, no interviews and his records didn’t automatically enter the world charts anymore.
“In 1968, with a voice richer and stronger, Elvis finally returned to singing songs with some substance – Guitar Man, Kentucky, Suspicious Minds and In The Ghetto.
“Remarkably, though, his voice never failed.”
[Anthony O’Grady, Sydney Sun.]
The Authors: Warren Denning’s “classic”
The book was Denning’s “monument”
The year 1931 was a period to remember in Australian politics.
Since 1929 the Scullin Labour Government had been bogged in “the quicksands” of the Depression, and was sinking fast. After a further damaging series of setbacks an election was called, Scullin was defeated, the Depression raged on.
On the sidelines in Canberra was the veteran political reporter, Warren Denning. Denning reported the opening of Parliament House in 1927; and cut his teeth on reporting the Depression years for Sydney newspapers.
Two years after Scullin resigned the leadership, Denning wrote one of the first indigenous analyses of a political downfall – Caucus Crisis: The rise and fall of the Scullin Government, published in 1937.
The book was reissued by Hale & Ironmonger in 1982, with a contribution by Alan Reid. Reid called it a “little classic … Denning’s monument.”
Another well-known historian opined that the book was “a vibrant and a well-informed account of the downfall of a … government; a classic.”
He went on to become the first staff correspondent of the ABC and largely responsible for establishing the Commission’s independence as a news service.
Denning died, aged 68, in 1975, the year of the “overseas loans” scandal.
Writes Frank Morris, in Australian Book Collector: “(This) was the most startling sequence of events in modern Australian history and Australia’s best political story in decades, but Denning would not be around to enjoy the spectacle!”
[This series will become a regular feature. From Frank Morris’ unpublished, The History of