As the nation grapples with losing our Queen, perhaps we should look back across the different eras we experienced with Her Majesty in power.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane and explore the most important events of Elizabeth II’s first decade in power - the 1950s.
Britain in the 1950s
The 1950s gave us youth culture and modern household appliances, but it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
Rations, Food Queues, And A New Monarch
Britain was a much different place in the 1950s, and the economical and human cost of the Second World War was felt by everyone.
Rationing and food shortages continued and families often queued for their meals. In fact, meat rations ran until 1954 whilst sugar rations were discontinued the year before. Though the 50s would see massive developments, life at the start of the decade was a far cry from the comforts of today.
The smoke and debris left by the War was soon cleared, and the 1950s gave us a laundry-list of inventions that we still use today, such as electric fridges, vacuum cleaners, and home televisions.
George VI was King of the United Kingdom at the start of the decade, however he would pass away on February 6 1952 and leave the throne to his elder daughter, Princess Elizabeth. The new Queen would use the television medium remarkably well by broadcasting her coronation ceremony to thousands of adoring Brits and ushering in a new era for this wonderful nation.
Rock-n-Roll, Colour Films, and Changing Social Norms
Elizabeth II’s early reign took place over a country whose popular culture was taking increasing amounts of inspiration from the United States.
The mid 1950s saw stars like James Dean and Elvis Presley grasp the public imagination and, though their respective acts caused controversy, they fascinated the emerging teenage demographic.
The trans-Atlantic success of films and music led to a seismic shift in youth culture on both sides of the pond. Britain hadn’t quite hit the heights it would experience in the next decade, but the nucleus of change was certainly in place.
DNA Discovered, Churchill Resigns, And The Mini
One of the most important scientific discoveries of all-time took place in 1953 when American biologist James Watson and English physicist Francis Crick discovered DNA.
Crick and Watson’s revelation has led to massive breakthroughs in medicine, criminal cases, and family trees. Though we all know about DNA and what its structure looks like, the British public of the 1950s found the discovery ground-breaking.
Another seismic shift, this time in politics, occured in April 1955 when legendary Prime Minister Winston Churchill called time on his second reign due to severe health issues. Churchill, who had helped guide the UK through the horrors of World War Two, had recently suffered a stroke and left the keys to Downing Street to Anthony Eden.
Britain’s roads were forever changed when the Mini arrived on the scene in 1959. The fuel shortage caused by the Suez Canal Crisis created a huge demand for a compact, efficient car that didn’t need much gas to run. As a result, the British Motoring Corporation unveiled the Mini, and its status as a British icon would be further cemented in the 1960s.
The 1950s, the first decade of Elizabeth II’s reign, left an indelible mark on British history. With a young Queen, a burgeoning cultural scene, and a thriving scientific community, hopes were high that the promise of the first post-war decade would be further built upon in the new decade.
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