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How the Queen is spending the 68th anniversary of her accession to the throne

Royal is two years away from celebrating her Platinum Jubilee 

Sarah Young
Thursday 06 February 2020 15:51 GMT
Harry and Meghan step back from royal family: what next?

Today (6 February) marks the 68th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne.

Gun salutes will be fired by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park and the Honourable Artillery Company at the Tower of London to publicly commemorate the occasion.

Elsewhere, the bells of Westminster Abbey, the church where the Queen was married and crowned, will also ring out to mark Accession Day.

The Queen is just two years away from celebrating her Platinum Jubilee which will mark 70 years on the throne.

So what does Accession Day mean and what does the Queen do to mark the special occasion?

What is Accession Day?

According to the royal family’s website, the term accession describes “the event of a new Sovereign taking the throne upon the death of the previous King or Queen”.

“A new Sovereign succeeds to the throne as soon as his or her predecessor dies and is proclaimed as soon as possible at an Accession Council in St James's Palace,” it explains.

The Queen took her place on the throne at the age of 25 in 1952. She was in Kenya on a Commonwealth tour with Prince Philip when her father died in his sleep at Sandringham, following a battle with lung cancer.

After returning to London, the royal couple were greeted by then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill as they disembarked from the plane, both wearing black as a mark of respect.

The King was buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on 15 February 1952, with the Queen's coronation taking place the following year on 2 June 1953.

What does the Queen do to celebrate?

The date of 6 February is bittersweet for the British monarch as while it commemorates another year of her reign and the day she became Queen, it also marks the anniversary of her father King George VI’s death.

It is for this sombre reason that the Queen chooses to spend the day in private.

In 2017, Dickie Arbiter, the Queen's former press secretary, told the Telegraph that the royal often spends the 6 February in “quiet contemplation”.

“It’s important to understand that for the Queen this marks the anniversary of the day her father died” Arbiter said.

“She has always made it clear that her long reign is a consequence of her father’s early death and so it is not a day for celebration."

The monarch has faced a turbulent time in recent weeks, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex preparing to quit royal life.

The announcement prompted the Queen to organise a crisis summit regarding the couple’s future roles, where it was decided there would be a “period of transition” which will see them living in Canada and the UK.

In a statement, the Queen said that the royal family “respect and understand” their “desire to create a new life as a young family”.

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