LIFESTYLE

How The British Royals Hid Their Crown Jewels From The Nazis During WWII And King George VI's Plot To Save Elizabeth

Date April 5, 2018 12:04

The British Royal family had to get creative during the Second World War. Not only did they have to protect each other, they also had to safeguard their possessions.

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How they handled the war

On the 3rd of September, 1939, King George VI informed the people of Great Britain via a national radio broadcast, that they should prepare for rough times ahead. He and Princess Elizabeth inspected the troops and made visits to the people.

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As the war continued, the king and princess also visited places that had been bombed. Princess Elizabeth focused on helping those who lost their home to get back on their feet.

READ ALSO: Queen Elizabeth’s 92nd Birthday Is Set To Be A Blast

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The royal's children, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, were at the Windsor Castle during most of these years. In October 1940, a 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth also motivated the people by broadcasting a message to evacuees on the radio. She urged them to stay strong.

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When she was 19, Princess Elizabeth became a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) where she trained as a driver and mechanic. Her sister, Margaret, joined the Sea Rangers.

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In May 1945, the British celebrated the VE (Victory in Europe) Day, which signified the end of the nearly 6-year war that claimed the lives of millions of people.

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Hiding the crown jewels

The royal family's crown jewels are incredibly precious. During the war, some of the gems from the collection were hidden underground in a biscuit tin at Windsor Castle. The goal was to keep them protected from the Nazis during their invasion.

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According to The Times, the jewels were stored in a Bath Oliver tin, which was cleverly concealed in an area where grass could cover it.

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This whole process was such a big secret that Queen Elizabeth herself did not find out until the filming of a BBC documentary about the Coronation, earlier this year. The secret was discovered by royal commentator, Alistair Bruce, among "confidential correspondence in the Royal Collection."

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The collection contained some letters from the royal librarian Sir Owen Morshead to Queen Mary, the mother of George VI. From the letter, it was discovered that the order to hide the jewels was made by King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II's father.

READ ALSO: Spy Papers: Queen Elizabeth II Survived Assassination Attempt In New Zealand

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The jewels were locked inside, and the only way to get to them was through a trapdoor, which can still be found today.

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But that's not all. The Black Prince's Ruby and St. Edward's Sapphire, two of the most precious jewels, were removed from the Imperial State Crown and hidden in the biscuit tin as well.

King George VI's plot to save his daughter

Apart from protecting the royal gems and boosting the morale of the British people, King George was also protecting his family during the war.

A mission named 'Operation Coats' was created by the then-ruler when he feared that the Nazi invasion might bring harm to Princess Elizabeth.

A personal bodyguard whose sole job was to protect King George, Queen Elizabeth, Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth was enlisted.

The bodyguard consisted of members of the Coldstream Guards and troopers from the XII Royal Lancers. This private army was led by Major Jimmy Coats who personally interviewed each member of the bodyguard.

Those who were assigned to this task had another role. They were given armored cars and weapons. In case of danger, they were to whisk the Royal family away from the Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle to one of four remote country houses which had already been set up as secret bolt-holes.

READ ALSO: Queen Elizabeth II Talks About Her Coronation And Says The Crown Is Heavy And Very Uncomfortable