The Reason Queen Elizabeth Stayed In Europe During WWII

During the events of World War II, a then 13-year-old Queen Elizabeth II (via The National WWII Museum) stayed in the United Kingdom. Instead of being evacuated like the millions of children were at the time, she and her younger sister Margaret stayed in the capital with their parents — King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth.

At first, the royal family remained in Buckingham Palace. But on September 13, 1940, five bombs fell around the Palace including the front gates and the Royal Chapel (via British Heritage Travel). King George VI, his wife and children remained safe while four members of Palace staff were injured, resulting in the death of one. In a letter written by a young Elizabeth at the time, she wrote about the "unmistakable whirr-whirr of a German plane" and that she heard the "scream of a bomb" as they fell around the Palace.

Understandably, Elizabeth and Margaret were moved to Windsor Castle. But that's not to say this was a safe place either, as the town was bombed quite a few times during the war (via Windsor Berkshire UK). However the castle remained untouched, which is believed to be because Hitler wanted to make Windsor Castle his home in the UK if he won the war, according to Berkshire Live.

It's not clear whether this was known to King George VI, or the British parliament for that matter. But Windsor wasn't actually the monarch's first choice of where to send his daughters.

King George VI wanted to evacuate his children abroad during the war

In an extract from Robert Hardman's biography "Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II" (via The Daily Mail), he wrote that King George VI actually wanted to send his children as far away from Britain as possible. As Hardman writes, other wealthy families in the UK had evacuated their children to the United States or Canada. It's speculated that King George VI wanted to do the same for his children, so they were completely out of harm's way.

According to a diary entry written by the King, he met with Prime Minister Winston Churchill to discuss the possibility of evacuating his daughters as they could be a "liability in case of invasion." In another entry, he wrote that Churchill "was not in favour of evacuation now" but did say that he should "make arrangements now in case they are needed."

Even though Elizabeth wasn't far away from her parents, who remained at Buckingham Palace during the war, she did express her worry of being away from them on October 13, 1940. "Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers," she said during the BBC's "Children's Hour" (via the National WWII Museum). "My sister Margaret Rose and I feel so much for you, as we know from experience what it means to be away from those you love most of all."