Elizabeth II's 50 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: The Register-Guard

CORRECTION (ran 2/15/02): A Feb. 9 editorial incorrectly listed George IV as having reigned 59 years as king of England. It was George III who ruled from 1760 to 1820.

When the signers of the American Declaration of Independence complained that "The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations," they were talking about George III.

Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's ascension to the British throne upon the death of her father, King George VI. Americans took scant notice of the anniversary and, according to a story by The Washington Post's T.R. Reid, even Britons showed little enthusiasm for the queen's Golden Jubilee.

Whatever one might think of the British monarchy - or any monarchy - Elizabeth II's anniversary is worth noting because of history - particularly the history of the past 50 years. Much has changed in the world since the young bride known as Lilibet took the job of "Queen of the Realm and of her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith."

Consider:

Inventions - When Elizabeth became queen, there were no audio cassettes, laptop computers, birth control pills, microprocessors, minivans, pacemakers, seat belts or, lest we forget, rollerblades.

Leaders - There have been 11 presidents since Feb. 6, 1952. Can you name them? OK, here's the list: Harry Truman (president when Elizabeth became queen), Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. There have been 10 British prime ministers: Winston Churchill (twice), Clement Atlee, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alexander Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson (twice), James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair.

Culture - The top-rated television show in the United States in 1952 was `I Love Lucy.' The Academy Award-winning movie of the year was `The Greatest Show on Earth.' The Oscar winning best actor and actress were Gary Cooper (`High Noon') and Shirley Booth (`Come Back Little Sheba'). The Tony-winning play on Broadway was "The Fourposter." The Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1952 was Albert Schweitzer. The Pulitzer Prize that year for fiction was won by Herman Wouk for "The Caine Mutiny. …