Wartime Windsor was austere: chandeliers were taken down,
priceless art removed from the walls, the grand state apartments
were swathed in dust sheets. The ornamental gardens were ploughed
up and given over to vegetable cultivation. The Princesses
collected tinfoil, rolled bandages and knitted socks for the
forces. They contributed pocket money to varoious charities engaged
in war work.
A Company of Grenadier Guards was stationed at Windsor Castle for the duration of the War to guard the royal family. Young officers were invited to lunch at the Castle with the princesses and their governesses, and there were picnics, dances, and games of after-dinner charades.
In 1942, on her 16th birthday, Elizabeth was created a Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, and on the morning of her birthday she inspected the regiment on parade for the very first time. At 18 she was appointed a Counsellor of State - certain powers could be delegated to her when the King was absent or abroad.
Finally, in the spring of 1945, Elizabeth was allowed to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) as Second Subaltern Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor. She had already been taught to drive in the grounds of Windsor Castle, and on 23 March she embarked on a Cadre Course at Camberley in Surrey. In July 1945 she was promoted to the rank of Junior Commander (see picture above).
On VE Day, 7 May 1945, she and her sister slipped out, incognito, amongst celebrating London crowds: "I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief."
Elizabeth had first met Prince Philip of Greece, the handsome naval cadet when she was just 13 year old. Philip had seen active service in the Royal Navy during the war, and when he was on home leave he was a frequent visitor at Windsor Castle, where romance blossomed. At the end of the war Philip was on duty in the Far East, and did not return to England until March 1946. But Elizabeth's feelings were unchanged; when he proposed to her at Balmoral in late summer 1946 she accepted. SHe participated in an official tour of South Africa with her parents and sister in early 1947 and the engagement was finally m made public on 10 July 1947
The marriage took place on 20 November 1947. In the dark and gloomy days following the end of the Second World War, the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten provided a glimpse of glamour. Despite the austerity of post-war Britain the wedding was marked by a huge outpouring of public affection, both at home and abroad. The young couple were showered with gifts, and when the news came out that the Princess would have to collect clothing coupons for her dress, she was inundated with gifts of coupons (which had to be returned).
Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Charles, in 1948 when she was aged 22. The newly-weds lived in Windlesham Manor near Windsor until 1949, when they moved in to Clarence House. Intermittently, during the early years of the marriage, Philip was stationed, as a serving naval officer, in Malta, where Elizabeth joined him. In 1950 she gave birth to her daughter, Princess Anne.