During the Second World War, young people from all over the country came together to defend their homeland and defeat Hitler.
Queen Elizabeth matured during this difficult time, and although she could have escaped hard work because of her privilege, she saw the destruction around her and wanted to help. Here is the amazing story of how Queen Elizabeth served her country in the war.
Queen Elizabeth served as a mechanic in the war
Nowadays we usually see Queen Elizabeth as a rather oppressed old woman. She seems strict and serious with her polished suits, pearls and large hats. It’s hard to imagine your hair as a lively young woman, but almost 80 years ago she was very different.
Queen Elizabeth even fought against her father’s desire to do one of the dirtiest jobs for a woman at that time.
In 1945, Queen Elizabeth, then known as Princess Elizabeth, served her country as a car mechanic in the Territorial Service, similar to the United States Women’s Corps. She learned to drive and maintain vehicles needed for the war effort, including engine repair.
During her time at the ATS training center, her family, including her father, the king, her mother, and Princess Margaret, visited her to see what she had learned. A story in the Associated Press at the time appeared during the visit and called her “Princess Auto Mechanic”.
The King didn’t want Elizabeth to serve
A princess who worked with the army was not normal at the time. But when she turned 18 in 1944, young people across the country contributed, and Queen Elizabeth wanted to help.
According to a report published at the time in LIFE Magazine, she argued for herself to serve as other young citizens should. But the king was not enthusiastic about the idea. He consulted with his counselors and finally came to the conclusion that her training as a princess was more important than the lack of manpower in the nation and that she should not join military service or work in a factory.
“But Betts [Queen Elizabeth] had other ideas,” the magazine pressed. She refused to let go of the problem and finally managed to convince her father to provide her service. Queen Elizabeth is the first and only woman in the royal family who is an active member of the service.
Queen Elizabeth loved to get dirty as a mechanic
Queen Elizabeth’s role in the ATS was not symbolic. This was not a case in which she popped up to change a tire and then be called a mechanic. She received no special rank or privileges to be a member of the royal family.
The same education and subsequent jobs were given to Queen Elizabeth as all other women in her position. She learned to drive different types of vehicles, including an ambulance, and how to deconstruct and rebuild an engine.
The work was great for Queen Elizabeth. According to Mashable, Collier’s Magazine reported in 1947: “One of her greatest joys was getting dirt under her nails and grease stains in her hands and showing these signs of labor to her friends.”
The role of the queen in the war shows us what a strong and hard-working woman she is, and it has certainly helped her prepare for the enormous role of queen.
We would rather have a queen who ended up in the mud with her people to help in the effort than a leader who sat comfortably in her castle and told others what to do.
Sometimes it’s easy to judge people based on what you’re seeing right now, but the story of Queen Elizabeth’s determination to help her country reminds us that people aren’t always what they seem.