Buckingham Palace to Charles Street, Baltimore

Queen Elizabeth ll The Longest Reigning British Monarch

The British Royals have been in the news again lately with Queen Elizabeth celebrating her 90th birthday as the longest ever reigning British monarch. Surpassing even the mammoth 63 years 7 month long reign of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, the Queen amazingly continues to fill her busy day to day schedule with appointment after appointment. The Royal connection that links the English throne to the history of downtown Baltimore, and the environs of Federal Hill and thoroughfares such as Charles Street, is fascinating, stretching back well over 200 years.

The Queen was born in 1926, and in 1953, the young Princess Elizabeth, as she was then known, ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, following the death of her father, King George Vl, who had been the King of England during the tumultuous years of World War ll.

More Than One King George!
The name King George surely rings loudly in the ears of all Americans. The history lessons studied in school, famously record the name of George lll, as the reigning British monarch during the bitter American Revolutionary War against England, which played such a large role in the American history of the late 18th century. Although George lll was technically still king of England years later in 1812 when British invaders attacked Baltimore, and bombarded Fort McHenry, he was no longer actively involved with affairs of state due to the illness which overtook him in his last years on the throne. There is no direct family relationship between these two George’s who lived a hundred years apart, but the chain of British royalty links the Queen back to those historic days of early Baltimorean history.

The King and the American Socialite Divorcee
The Queen’s father, King George Vl was the younger of two brothers and was by nature a shy person. He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the queen’s mother, in 1920, and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. When his father, King George V died, he was not expected to become king, as his older brother, Edward was the more outgoing of the two. His brother did in fact ascended the British throne as Edward lll, but his reign as King of England did not last long. When Edward expressed his desire to marry the love of his life, the divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson, he was strongly opposed by the political leadership, who would not agree on religious and other grounds to him remaining king if he married a divorced woman. Edward nevertheless chose to marry rather than remain king, and he consequently abdicated the throne, thereby allowing his younger brother, George, to become king in his place.

World War ll On The Horizon
In 1939, just before the outbreak of World War ll, President Roosevelt invited King George Vl to visit the United States. This was the first time a British monarch had ever visited the United States and was a great step towards warming the relations between the two countries that had often been somewhat tense.

Despite widespread opposition in some circles, the Royal visit was a resounding success. It laid the foundations of the future relationship that would eventually see the two great world powers cementing the alliance that would crush the Nazi menace and bring peace to the world.

President Roosevelt’s Royal Guests
The American people warmed to the Royal couple, and greeted them with cheers. Crowds lined the streets to applaud the Royal cavalcade as it passed through the streets of Washington DC.

They were treated to all the pomp of a State Visit, with receptions and banquets and lavish entertainment. The presidential yacht carried them on a sailing visit down the Potomac River to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, from where they traveled to Arlington Cemetery and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

A relaxing few days spent at the Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park, NY, included a picnic which delighted the public, when the Royal couple were served a meal of hot dogs, something quite novel for the Royal visitors!

Emotional Farewell
The King & Queen were finally bid farewell by an emotional crowd, when they left on the start of their journey back, faced with the bleak prospect of the looming war in Europe.

When Britain declared war on Germany three month’s later, the sympathies and support of the American people were strongly with them, due in no small measure to the success of the Royal visit and the warmth with which they had been received.

History in the Air
To this day the historical impact of that visit and the affectionate attitude of the American people towards Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family remains. For those living in the modern apartments in this historical area, such as 1201 S.Charles Street, the history is there for them to savor every time they walk the local streets. Federal Hill and Fort McHenry are now only linked by distant memories to the long forgotten conflict between two nations, that are now the closest of allies and the best of friends.

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