1947 – Princess Elizabeth’s 21st Birthday

Princess Elizabeth’s 21st Birthday

Cape Town

On 21st April 1947, Princess Elizabeth celebrated her 21st birthday while on tour with her parents and younger sister in South Africa. In a speech broadcast on the radio from Cape Town, the Princess dedicated her life to the service of the Commonwealth.

The speech was written by Dermot Morrah, a 50yr old journalist. Sent by the Times to report on it, the King and his heir presumptive realised that something ought to be done about her 21st birthday. She would make a broadcast speech to the Commonwealth and Dermot was tasked to write it. The speech contained one of the most quoted passages of the Queen:

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

Originally the draft letter was considered lost until it turned up in a bar.