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Queen Elizabeth II: The Real Stories Behind the Tumultuous 1960s and '70s

November 25, 2019 in History

By Jessica Pearce Rotondi

The British royal family faced significant milestones and challenges during the two decades.

The crown can be a heavy burden to bear, and the 1960s and 70s were challenging decades for Queen Elizabeth. From tabloid coverage of Princess Margaret’s affair to Prince Charles’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, the royal family entered the spotlight like never before. When disaster struck in Aberfan and a miner’s strike plunged London into darkness, Queen Elizabeth was tasked with restoring calm and order to a changing nation. Here are seven of the biggest moments in Queen Elizabeth’s reign in the 1960s and 1970s.

1. Princess Margaret’s Controversial U.S. Tour

Lord Snowdon, first lady Mrs. Johnson, Princess Margaret and President Lyndon Johnson pose for photographers in the Queen’s room at the White House on November 17, 1965, prior to a dinner-dance in honor of the royal visit.

By 1965, Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret, had established her reputation as the royal most likely to court controversy. So Elizabeth II was playing with fire when she sent “The Royal Lightning Rod” on a three-week tour of the United States.

The trip came at a tense time in U.S.-U.K. Relations. Prime Minister Harold Wilson and President Lyndon B. Johnson were at loggerheads, the UK was in debt and in need of American approval for a loan and America was embroiled in the Vietnam War just as Britain was shedding its colonial holdings.

The trip began well enough. Margaret and her husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon, rode the trolley in San Francisco, rubbed elbows with celebrities like Judy Garland and Alfred Hitchcock in Los Angeles, rode horses in Arizona and danced with and Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson in the White House at a spectacular dinner that roared on until 1:40 a.m. But other late night hijinks on the trip raised eyebrows— as did its astronomical cost of £30,000. The princess was banned from making future official U.S. visits.

Read more here.

2. Aberfan Disaster

On October 21, 1966, nearly 140,000 cubic yards of coal waste had slid down a rain-saturated manmade mountainside in in Aberfan, Wales.

View the 10 images of this gallery on the original article

On October 21, 1966 a tsunami of black sludge rushed from the hill above the Welsh mining town of Aberfan, engulfing entire buildings and destroying everything in its …read more


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