You Can’t Make It Up – The King and Queen of England Hide from General Eisenhower

In mid 1944, Queen Elizabeth and King George VI entertained Dwight Eisenhower, by then Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Forces, to a private buffet lunch. The Queen told Eisenhower that two years ago when Colonel Sterling, one of the Royal Equerries, was showing the gardens of Buckingham Palace to the newly arrived General Eisenhower, the Colonel had not realized that the King and Queen were on the grounds. Not wishing to disturb the General Eisenhower’s tour and not yet having received him formally, this presented a quandary. So the King and Queen got up, slipped behind a hedge, and got on their hands and knees so Eisenhower would not see them as he walked past.

– As cited in Eisenhower at War 1943-45 by David Eisenhower

George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, played an important role in maintaining British moral during World War Two, particularly during the ‘Blitz’, when German aircraft flying only at night, bombed British cities with London the most common target which at one point was hit 57 nights in a row. The Blitz went on intermittently from late September of 1940 until mid-May of 1941 when Luftwaffe units in France began to be withdrawn and redeployed in the East for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Over 43,000 British civilians were killed during the Blitz, half of them Londoners.

Early in the Blitz, Buckingham Palace was bombed by the Germans and the King and Queen were almost killed. Londoners took courage when they passed by Buckingham Palace and saw the Royal Standard flying which indicated the King and Queen were in residence. They stayed in London throughout the Blitz, sharing the fate of their subjects. George VI was physically weak and never expected to be King. He stuttered terribly. He was living a very quiet life when Edward VIII abdicated in one of the more bizarre romance stories ever. London street urchins ran around singing:

“Hark the herald,
Angels sing
Mrs. Simpson’s
pinched our king.”

Published by

Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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