sixty years ago this week news of the death of King George VI and the succession to the throne to Princess Elizabeth was received with shock in Berwickshire.
The front page of the Berwickshire News of February 12, 1952, complete with black border, was devoted to how the news was received and the messages of condolence that were sent to the royal family.
‘First people to receive the news of the King’s death in Duns were the housewives listening to their radios. Within a minute the sad news was spread round the town and the symnpathy of all was being expressed.
‘One shop window in Duns was draped in purple and black, and flags were flying half mast over the two schools, the British Legion Club, the council chambers and other places.
Beneath the headline ‘Britain Mourns a Beloved King’ it goes on to say how he reigned during some of the gravest times in history.
“The world has lost one of its best men by the death of his majesty the King George VI.
“The British people have lost a beloved King and a leader whose leadership none disputed and none envied.
“The years of his reign held some of the gravest times in history, and some of the saddest - among them the world war and international uncertainty. But the mutual regard between people and King only strengthened under these rude blasts.
“Throughout the British Empire he was regarded with affection; and in other countries he won a measure of favour and esteem. His admirers were of every rank and every clime.
“There is a pause in the ordinary life of the nation, and of the Empire, as its subjects pay homage to one whom they so deeply honoured and respected.
“The sympathy of all goes out to the sorrowing Queen Mother, who so nobly supported the dead King in all his duties and trials in high office.
“The announcement from Sandringham at 10.45am stated that His Majesty had retired to rest on Tuesday night in his usual health and he passed peacefully away in his sleep early on Wednesday morning.”
Olive Bell, of Allanton, recalls: “Having watched the news of the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Accession I am reminded that I heard the news of the King’s death from my headmaster at Coldingham School when we were all in the canteen at lunchtime.
“We were having a sort of rabbit stew and lumpy semolina that day.
“In the afternoon “Braddie”, as we called the head, set my class to work writing out the National Anthem with Queen replacing King and changing the pronouns to suit.
“We then had to learn the words of the second verse which stays with me to this day. I wonder if there are others with memories of that day.”
At Ayton the school children were listening to the BBC’s schools broadcast when it was interrupted by an announcer giving the news.
In Coldstream a memorial for the King was held on February 8, all shops were shut that day and a memorial window was opened in the Presenting Coldstream premises.
After announcing the death of the King at 11.16am the BBC closed down for the day except for new and shipping broadcasts.
The announcement of the King’s death was followed by the proclamation of accession of Queen Elizabeth II but for Coldstream things didn’t quite go to plan.
All Proclamation’s were sent out on the Thursday to arrive on Friday, however, the Coldstream Provost’s copy of the Proclamation still hadn’t arrived on the Monday morning and a car was sent to Kelso and their Proclamation was borrowed for the occasion.
The Berwickshire News comment on Queen Elizabeth said: “Queen Elizabeth is one of the most popular figures in the world today
“Throughout Britain, Commonwealth, and Empire, she is regarded with affection, and in other countries she has won a measure of favour and esteem.
“Her majesty comes to the throne at a troubled period of the world’s history, and it behoves all citizens to do whatever they can to smooth her path and give her the chance to work as her illustrious father did as our King.”
Sixty years on and the plaudits are still coming thick and fast for Queen Elizabeth as the country marks her diamond jubilee year.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond paid tribute this week saying that “she has served her country with the utmost grace and distinction”.
He went on: “Her dedication and commitment has inspired countless people across the country and around the world. And of course, Her Majesty’s affection for Scotland is reciprocated by Scots of all generations.”
The Scottish Government is working closely with Lord Lieutenants across Scotland on many community events, the main celebrations taking place at the beginning of June including the Big Jubilee Lunch, 2,012 beacons are to be lit across Scotland and the UK, and the local people will take part in the 1000 vessel flotilla on the Thames which includes two boats from Eyemouth.