jpg Even as they were crowned, the new King and Queen knew they faced a growing crisis. Hitler had been preparing for war since he came to power in 1933, whereas in 1937 Britain was still unprepared for a European conflict. On September 3, 1939, the prime minister announced Britain was at war with Germany.

During the war the couple covered half a million miles in the royal train - the equivalent of 20 times around the equator - in trips aimed at boosting the country's morale. The Queen encouraged women to take full part in the war effort. As patron of the Land Army, she organised knitting circles at the Palace and chaired a committee which sent clothes and blankets to bombed-out communities in Britain and abroad.

Small wonder that Hitler, a keen appreciator of the powers of propaganda, called her "the most dangerous woman in Europe." When the end of the hostilities was announced on May 8, 1945, chants of "We want the King!" and "We want the Queen!" brought the couple out on to the Palace balcony eight times, as the crowd below Buckingham Palace - which included Princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret - enthusiastically cheered their monarchs.
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