With 60 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth is second only to Victoria as the British monarch with the longest reign in history. In a couple of weeks’ time, there will be no escaping the union jacks, commemorative tv programmes, tea towels and countless other memorabilia.
A new online exhibition on Capital Collections gives a flavour of what life was like in Scotland’s capital back in 1952 and the chance to appreciate the nation’s constant figurehead in an ever-changing world.
1952 was a momentous year. The USA tested the first hydrogen superbomb, the deadliest weapon yet in their Cold War nuclear armoury. A Jewish girl’s diary of her experiences during the Second World was published in English. Anne Frank’s story would have an enduring and far-reaching impact and fulfil her father’s wishes for it to stand as a warning against racial hatred. Closer to home, up to 2000 people died in London from respiratory problems triggered by an unprecedented 10 day pea-souper smog hanging over the city. The world’s first passenger jet airliner set off from London bound for South Africa, signalling the possibilities of future air travel.
In tha same year renowned architect Le Corbusier unveiled the Unite d’Habitation in Marseilles – his Utopian vision for modern living – Edinburgh’s planners revealed proposals for new housing developments for the city. Le Corbusier’s self-contained vertical city was intended to be functional and practical and to allow people to live in strong communities. In Edinburgh, a redevelopment of the rundown Canongate area was commissioned and a couple of years later, a proposal for high-rise towerblocks in the Dumbiedykes area would add a new dimension to the city’s skyline.
Perhaps though, the most significant news for the people of the British Isles was the accession to the throne of the young Queen Elizabeth II. Edinburgh joined in the celebrations with a simultaneous proclamation ceremony which proceeded throughout the city. Delve into 1952 and you’ll see pictures from the proclamation as well as two Royal visits. The new Queen is captured on her first official Scottish tour visiting Huntly House and the Duke of Edinburgh opens the 1952 International Festival of Music and Drama. We even have the menu from his official luncheon programme detailing anchovy canapés completing a four course meal. (Really – after one’s dessert?)