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What The Royal Family Did During The Second World War

At 6pm on 3 September 1939, King George VI spoke to the people of Britain and the Empire. In his radio broadcast, he talked of the difficult times ahead and urged his people to stand firm.

The King held the ranks of Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force (RAF). He and Queen Elizabeth inspected troops and visited work places. On these occasions the King always appeared in uniform.

During the Blitz, the King and Queen visited bombed areas to see the damage caused by enemy air raids. On these visits, the Queen took a keen interest in what was being done to help people who had lost their homes. After Buckingham Palace was bombed on 13 September 1940, she said she felt she could 'look the East End in the face'.

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret spent most of the war years at Windsor Castle and, like many other British children, were often apart from their parents. In October 1940, 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth broadcast a message to evacuees on the radio programme Children's Hour, urging them to have courage.

At the age of 19, Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). After joining, she trained as a driver and mechanic with the rank of Second Subaltern. Five months later she was promoted to Junior Commander, which was the equivalent of Captain. Her younger sister Princess Margaret was a Girl Guide and later joined the Sea Rangers.

At 6pm on VE Day, 8 May 1945, the King again broadcast to the nation. During the afternoon and evening, the King and Royal Family made eight appearances on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to acknowledge the crowds gathered below. The princesses were allowed to leave the palace and secretly take part in the celebrations.