From the archive: How the JC marked key moments in Queen Elizabeth II's life

From 1926 to 2022, the JC has reported the most important moments in the life of the late Queen Elizabeth II


On the 21st of April 1926, Princess Elizabeth was born in the early hours of the morning to Prince Albert, the second son of the King, and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Duchess of York. At that time, the Princess' accession to the throne was thought remote, but in 1936, after the death of her grandfather and the abdication of her uncle, the King, she ascended to become heir presumptive.

Since 1841, the Jewish Chronicle has written the first draft of history, recording the key moments in Jewish and British life. From the birth of Princess Elizabeth to her uncle's abdication, her father's death, her accession to the throne, and throughout her extraordinary reign, JC reporters documented every key moment.

24th January 1936: 'Jewry Mourns The King'

On the 20th of January 1936, King George V died after a period of illness, moving Princess Elizabeth from third in the line of succession to second as her uncle King Edward VIII took the throne. It was thought unlikely that she would move closer to the throne, given that her uncle was expected to marry and produce heirs, who would be ahead of her.

"The passing of our beloved sovereign has brought to us all a sense of affliction such as can rarely have accompanied the death of a King in any country or age."

"Jews in this country saw in the King the father who permitted no distinctions between his children, and Jews abroad joined their English brethren in honouring him for the just and lofty standards he set in the art and practice of government.

"Nor ever can we forget that it was during his reign that the one flame of hope was lit in the dark and the mirk of Jewish oppression, and the Balfour Declaration was given to our people.

"Truly may it be said that, in King George, 'the redeemer came unto Zion'."

18th of December 1936: 'The New King and Queen'

After the accession of King Edward VIII, the monarchy entered a period of instability as the King wished to marry a divorcee, Mrs Simpson, which was not permitted. The King eventually made the decision to abdicate the throne on the 11th of December 1936, which meant it passed to Princess Elizabeth's father, who became King George VI. As the Princess had no brothers, she became heir presumptive.

The Chief Rabbi wrote an accession prayer: "Be Thou with him in all his ways and undertakings, even as Thou hast been with his father."

"Pour out the riches of Thy Heavenly goodness upon our gracious Queen Elizabeth, upon Mary, the Queen-Mother, upon the Princess Elizabeth and upon all the members of the Royal Family."

21st of November 1947: 'Wedding Gifts for Princess'

After first meeting in 1934, Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey on the 20th of November 1947; it was a union that would last 73 years.

The JC reported on the royal wedding, including a gift of 1,000 trees in the King George V jubilee forest on the hills of Nazareth, Israel.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews delivered a loyal address to the King which had been written to mark the engagement, read by Anthony de Rothschild: "We, the London Committee of Deputies of the British Jews, and we, the Anglo-Jewish Association, for ourselves and the community whom we represent, humbly and dutifully offer to Your Majesty and Her Majesty the Queen our respectful congratulations on the joyous occasion of the betrothal of Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten."

The King replied: "The Queen and I are glad to know that Princess Elizabeth's engagement has given such pleasure to my Jewish subjects."

19th of November 1948: 'The Royal Baby - Anglo-Jewish Joy'

On the 14th of November 1948, Queen Elizabeth produced an heir, the now King Charles III.

Marking the occasion on its front page, the JC wrote: "Telegrams of congratulation on the birth of the new Prince have been sent by the Chief Rabbi and the Board of Deputies.

"The Chief Rabbi wired as follows: To the KING and QUEEN: On behalf of the Jewish Communities of the British Commonwealth and Empire I respectfully offer your Majesties loyal and sincere congratulations on the birth of a grandson."

"To PRINCESS ELIZABETH: On behalf of the Jewish Communities of the British Commonwealth and Empire I offer your Royal Highness sincere congratulations and good wishes on the birth of a son."

"A reply from the King and Queen read: The Queen and I sincerely thank the Jewish Communities of the British Commonwealth for their kind message on the birth of our grandchild."

8th of February 1952: 'Death of King George VI'

After a long period of declining health, Princess Elizabeth's father, King George VI, died on the 6th of February 1952, making the 25-year-old princess the new monarch. Queen Elizabeth and her husband Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, were on a royal tour in Kenya when the King took his final breath, and Elizabeth became Queen. They raced back to London immediately.

The JC wrote: "It is with the deepest sorrow that we record the death of His Majesty King George VI, which occurred peacefully during his sleep in the early hours of Wednesday at Sandringham House. The King was 56 and in the 16th year of his reign.

"He is succeeded by his elder daughter, Princess Elizabeth, who comes to the Throne as Queen Elizabeth II. The public proclamation of her accession will be made to-day."

5th of June 1953: 'Jews celebrate coronation'

On the 2nd of June 1953, the formal Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place at Westminster Abbey - it was the first to ever be televised and broadcast around the world.

The JC wrote: "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday, and Jews throughout the country and the Commonwealth joined with their fellow citizens in celebrating the historic occasion. At the service at the Abbey, charged with Hebrew feeling, the Anglo-Jewish community was officially represented by the Chief Rabbi, and many other Jews prominent in communal and other walks of life joined in the prayers for the Queen's long and prosperous reign.

"Special Coronation services were held in synagogues throughout the country and Commonwealth.

"For the first time in history the State of Israel was represented at a British coronation, in the person of its Ambassador, Mr. Eliahu Elath."

10th of June 1977: 'Anglo-Jewry joins in Royal Jubilee'

Queen Elizabeth marked her Silver Jubilee - 25 years on the Throne - on the 6th of February 1977, which was celebrated at the time of the Monarch's official birthday in June.

In the edition of the 10th of June, the JC wrote: "Anglo-Jewry joined all sections of the community in wholehearted tribute to the Queen on the occasion of her Silver Jubilee.

"In synagogues throughout the country Jubilee services were held. Dayan M. S. Lew spoke eloquently of the Queen's role in British life at a service at the Hampstead Garden Synagogue on Saturday, as did Rabbi Maurice Unterman at Marble Arch Synagogue and Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon at Hampstead."

It continued: "Among the heads of foreign diplomatic missions was Mr Zvi Kedar, charge d'affaires, Israeli Embassy. The Israeli President, Professor Ephraim Katzir, sent the Queen a message of congratulations."

25th of June 1982: 'New Prince Hailed'

On the 21st of June 1982, Prince Charles and Princess Diana welcomed a son, Prince William, who was second in the line of succession.

The JC marked the birth of the new Prince on its front page four days later, writing: "Sir Immanuel Jakobovits, the Chief Rabbi, and Mr Greville Janner, QC, MP , president of the Board of Deputies, have both sent congratulatory messages to Buckingham Palace on the birth of a son to the Prince and Princess of Wales.

"Mr Janner sent a telegram wishing the Royal Family "a hearty mazeltov" on behalf of the Jewish community, while Sir Immanuel extended "heartfelt felicitations" on the birth which gave "boundless joy to millions."

"The Anglo-Jewish Association and Ajex have also sent greetings for the future well-being of the new prince."

5th of April 2002: 'Queen Mum's support for East End noted in tributes'

In the edition of the 5th of April 2002, the JC marked the death of the Queen Mother at the age of 101 in the community pages, noting her support for Jewish life in the East End of London.

The JC wrote: "The Jewish community has joined in tributes and condolence messages to the Queen and the royal family following the death of the Queen Mother last Saturday.

"Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks led the tributes, with a memorial prayer in honour of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother to be recited in United Synagogue congregations yesterday, the last day of Passover.

"The prayer recalled the Queen Mother's role in the Second World War, "giving courage at times of danger and comfort at times of loss."

"Rabbi Sacks, who is planning to attend the funeral on Tuesday, also issued a personal message, describing the late Queen Mother as "grandmother of the nation... She knew how to be regal without being remote. We loved her, we will miss her, and we will never forget her.""

7th of June 2002: 'Some right royal rejoicing'

In June 2002, the Queen celebrated her Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years on the British throne.

On page 3 of the issue of 7th of June, the JC wrote: "British Jews, young and old, embraced the jubilee in style over the Bank Holiday weekend.

At the Nightingale home in South-West London, residents celebrated with parties, talks, quizzes, services and conceits. Rachael Bourne, 94, told the JC: "Every time we do a party like this I get back my life."

"Elderly residents from the Chasidic community's Schonfeld Square in Stamford Hill held a special jubilee party on Tuesday at which Rabbi Abba Dunner, Barnet councillor and secretary-general of the Conference of European Rabbis, spoke about meeting the Queen."

The JC also shared the story of Marie Driffill who visited the Palace regularly as a fabrics buyer: "She knew that I was Jewish. She was so wonderful to me, and invited me to see the Duke of Edinburgh play polo," she said.

"Every year, she sent me Christmas cards from the family, signed Elizabeth."'

"Among Mrs Driffill's recollections is the occasion when she wanted to take her nephew to see the Trooping of the Colour as a barmitzvah treat, but all the tickets in the stands were sold out.

"I got a call from the Palace, and it was the Queen herself. She said, 'I hear that your nephew is coming for his barmitzvah. I'll give you two tickets.' I had her own private seats!"

1st of June 2012: Jubilee Souvenir Issue

In June 2012, the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee - marking the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne - which coincided with the UK hosting the Olympic Games.

Marking the milestone with a special souvenir edition, the JC quoted from a speech by Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, delivered just days prior in the House of Lords: "Many tributes have rightly been paid to Her Majesty for her six decades of sustained and dedicated service to the nation. But one aspect should not be forgotten. It is hard in a nation where there is an established church to make other faiths feel welcomed, valued and at home, but that is precisely what Her Majesty has done. We are lifted, blessed and enlarged by the generosity of spirit in which she has done so.

"Let me say on behalf of the Jewish communities of Britain and the Commonwealth how much we have appreciated Her Majesty’s kindness to us and to others. Jews hardly ever agree on anything, but on this we are united. There are rare individuals whose greatness speaks across all ethnic and religious divides. Her Majesty is such an individual and we are truly blessed by her."

16th of April 2021: 'Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021'

On the 9th of April 2021, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Queen lost Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, her "strength and stay" after 73 years of marriage.

In a special edition seven days later, the JC marked the Duke's passing with an 11-page tribute exploring his remarkable life at the Queen's side.

The JC wrote in its leading article: "Had he married anyone else, he would almost certainly have been regarded as a brilliant man of rare intelligence, who had risen to the very top of his chosen field, the Royal Navy. But he willingly sublimated all of that as the longest serving consort in British history. In that context, his contribution to the country was no less important. First, of course, as a rock for the Queen. But also in his public duties. It was in that role that our community had many dealings with him, which are fondly remembered and celebrated in this week’s JC.

"There was a deep connection with Anglo-Jewry, in part because of his family ancestry but also thanks to a shared outlook...he saw the world in a way that chimed with Jewish values of individual responsibility, enterprise and resilience.

"But there was more to it than that. In some ways his life mirrored the Jewish experience. He was at once both proudly British — indeed the ultimate insider, married to the sovereign — and yet also something of an outsider, having had a peripatetic, traumatic upbringing. He could thus relate as an individual to our communal experience. That, perhaps, is why so many of us looked with special fondness to him. And it is just one reason why we pray that his memory is for a blessing."

Platinum Jubilee

For the Platinum jubilee in June 2022, the JC’s leading article praised the monarch’s sketch with Paddington Bear saying it was funny and touching and “It had a message — and, for our community, one might even say that it put the Jew in Jubilee. Because the story of Paddington, the refugee bear from Peru, was inspired by the Kindertransport. Paddington’s creator, Michael Bond, often spoke of his emotion when he saw Jewish refugee children arriving at his local station with paper nametags tied to them.”

The JC edition marking the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be published on Friday September 16, 2022.

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