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From the State News archives: Snapshots of Queen Elizabeth II's life

September 14, 2022
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Photo by State News archive | The State News

Princess Elizabeth Wed: 1947

The earliest mention of Elizabeth II in The State News was 75 years ago. The State News was then named the Michigan State News. Our school on the banks of the Red Cedar was still known as the Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, and across the Atlantic Ocean, Elizabeth II was to be wed.

In an issue from Thursday, Nov. 20, 1947, under the headline “Princess Elizabeth Wed” was a short story from the Associated Press, which detailed the 21-year-old future monarch’s wedding gown and travel attire. 

“Princess Elizabeth will be wed this morning in a classically cut gown created of ivory Duchesse satin and thickly embroidered with thousands of pearls,” the article read. 

Elizabeth II’s post-wedding travel attire was described as striking a compromise between “the present British vogue” and “the mid-calf length prescribed by fashion moderators in Paris and New York.” According to the article, this choice reflected both the royal family’s distaste for showing off and the tight economic conditions of the time. 

The British economy was in a state of disorder following the end of the second World War, and clothing could be scarce because of war-era clothes rationing that did not end until 1949.

The story appeared below an advertisement that asked readers to donate money to a student fund -- “$15 will support a tubercular student for a week in one of the student sanatoriums,” one line of the ad read.

Empire Mourns King George's Death; Elizabeth to Assume Duties as Queen: 1952

In Jan. 1952 Elizabeth II was on a hunting trip in Africa with her husband when her father, King George V died. The Associated Press reported on this news which landed on the front page of the Michigan State News, and included a bolded subheading that read “First Woman Ruler In Last 50 Years.” Elizabeth II was 25. 

“Prime Minister Winston Churchill swore allegiance to his sixth British monarch in London yesterday,” the article read. “His voice was almost inaudible among members of parliament taking the oath as subjects of the new Queen Elizabeth.”

A second front page article below-the-fold headlined “Campus Talks of King’s Death,” a collection of student reactions to the monarch’s passing, in which students traded opinions on whether or not Elizabeth II was ready to assume the throne.

A short two-column section on the second page headlined “Long Live the Queen” eulogized the late King George and wished Queen Elizabeth well. “

“While democratic Americans still celebrate their severance from an England of long ago,” it read, “we can only wish her a reign as happy and prosperous as that of her namesake. Long live the Queen!”

Other news from that day? The Korean War continued, President Harry Truman was looking to confirm a new head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and in East Lansing, MSU’s Spartan Statue was being scrubbed clean after a mysterious perpetrator had striped it in yellow and blue paint.

Crowds Pack London To Watch Coronation: 1953

On the front page of the Michigan State News on Tuesday, June 2, 1953 was the headline, “Thousands of Red Troops Pound Allied Lines with Fresh Assaults.” Three pages away was “Crowds Pack London To Watch Coronation.” Hundreds of thousands cheered as the Queen was crowned, according to the AP report.

“Just before midnight she received a most unusual ‘coronation gift’,” the article read -- a British expedition had summited Mount Everest days before, and had planted the Union Jack as a gift to the new Queen. Members of the two-man expedition, explorer Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, were the first to reach the summit.

The article said the Queen’s serene mood contrasted strongly with the “joyous hysteria” sweeping the capital city.

Queen’s German Reception Cool: 1965

In 1965, Elizabeth II visited Germany, marking the first state visit by a reigning monarch in about 50 years. The trip was meant to symbolize reconciliation after WWII sources like The New York Times and Time Magazine described hundreds of thousands of residents welcoming the Queen’s arrival. Cheering crowds in red, white and blue lined the Elbe River upon her departure.

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However, a small section on the third page of the Michigan State News titled “World News at a Glance” from the paper’s wire services told a different story.

“Queen Elizabeth got a reserved, undemonstrative welcome Tuesday from the people at the start of her state visit to West Germany,” the paper read. “Many spectators complained that the Queen was being kept from the public in a closed limousine which passed swiftly through the streets.”

The article also noted that crowds were smaller than those that gathered for President John F. Kennedy in June of 1963.

Queen marks 25th anniversary: 1977

Another short article about Elizabeth II appeared in the paper 12 years later. By then, the student-run publication had shortened its name to The State News and had begun working independently from the University -- which, since 13 years prior, had finally come to be known as Michigan State University.

The article, from the Associated Press, covered the Queen’s Silver Jubilee -- her celebration of 25 years on the throne. 

“The queen spent the day with her family at Windsor Castle, west of London, as her subjects read Sunday newspapers filled with tributes and highlights of her reign,” the article read. 

The royal family attended a service at Windsor’s Royal Chapel in remembrance of King George VI, according to the article.

“His death Feb. 6, 1952, made Elizabeth sovereign of a realm still basking in the victory of World War II and still the hub of a far-flung empire,” it read.

The article appeared below news of then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s plans to keep Canada United, and above and a report from Cape Canaveral, Florida on the launching of a U.S. military satellite meant to counter Soviet satellites. 

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