The speech Princess Elizabeth made in Cape Town on her 21st birthday. In full. Plus: an unexpected birthday present. And historic unseen pictures.10 September 2022
Princess Elizabeth celebrated her 21st Birthday during the Royal Visit of her parents and her younger sister, and delivered the famous speech broadcast around the Empire:
On my twenty-first birthday I welcome the opportunity to speak to all the peoples of the British Commonwealth and Empire, wherever they live, whatever race they come from, and whatever language they speak.
Let me begin by saying ‘thank you’ to all the thousands of kind people who have sent me messages of good will. This is a happy day for me; but it is also one that brings serious thoughts, thoughts of life looming ahead with all its challenges and with all its opportunity.
At such a time it is a great help to know that there are multitudes of friends all round the world who are thinking of me and who wish me well. I am grateful and I am deeply moved.
As I speak to you today from Cape Town I am six thousand miles from the country where I was born. But I am certainly not six thousand miles from home. Everywhere I have travelled in these lovely lands of South Africa and Rhodesia my parents, my sister and I have been taken to the heart of their people and made to feel that we are just as much at home here as if we had lived among them all our lives.
That is the great privilege belonging to our place in the world-wide commonwealth – that there are homes ready to welcome us in every continent of the earth. Before I am much older I hope I shall come to know many of them.
Although there is none of my father’s subjects from the oldest to the youngest whom I do not wish to greet, I am thinking especially today of all the young men and women who were born about the same time as myself and have grown up like me in terrible and glorious years of the second world war.
A SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
When the open Daimler proceeded through Benoni, a black man, raced after the car, grabbed hold of the car. The Queen attacked the supposed assailant with her parasol. The man was knocked senseless by a policeman. The Queen carried on smiling to the crowds. It turned out that this was a show of loyalty: the man wanted to present a birthday present to Princess Elizabeth for her 21st birthday. He was clutching a 10 shilling note. Once the misunderstanding was dealt with, there were apologies and concern all round.