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1952 - when a princess became Queen

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1952 - when a princess became Queen
1952 - when a princess became Queen
1952 was a momentous year. The year that saw the USA test the first hydrogen superbomb, the deadliest weapon yet in Cold War their nuclear armoury also saw Anne Frank's Diary published in English. Her story would have an enduring and far-reaching impact and fulfil her father's wishes for it to stand as a warning against racial hatred. Up to 2000 people died in London from respiratory problems triggered by an unprecedented 10 day pea-souper smog hanging over the city. The world's first passenger jet airliner set off from London bound for South Africa, signalling the possibilities of future air travel. In the same year, renowned architect, Le Corbusier unveiled his Utopian vision for modern living, the Unite d'Habitation in Marseilles, Edinburgh's planners revealed proposals for new housing developments for the city. Le Corbusier's self-contained vertical city was intended to be functional and practical and to allow people to live in strong communities. In Edinburgh, a redevelopment of the rundown Canongate area was commissioned and a couple of years later a proposal for high-rise towerblocks in the Dumbiedykes area would add a new dimension to the city's skyline.

A new sound was taking to the American airwaves. Rock 'n' roll, a mixture of folk, blues and country captured the imagination of a burgeoning youth culture. A British singles chart appeared in the New Musical Express for the first time in November 1952. However, the official Top 12 listing was dominated by easy listening love songs such as Al Martino's 'Here in My Heart' and 'You Belong to Me' by Jo Stafford. It would be another 3 years before 'Rock Around the Clock' became an international and revolutionary pop hit. And before television made its way into the home on the back of the televisation of the Queen's coronation, cinema played a major part of people's lives. The timeless musical 'Singin' in the Rain' was at the big screen in 1952.

Perhaps though, the most significant news for the people of the British Isles was the accession to the throne of the young Queen Elizabeth II . Edinburgh joined in the celebrations with a simultaneous proclamation ceremony which proceeded throughout the city.

In the 60th anniversary year of Queen Elizabeth's reign, this exhibition gives a picture of Edinburgh in 1952. It features images from the proclamation and two Royal visits. The new Queen is seen on her first Scottish tour visiting Huntly House and the Duke of Edinburgh opens the 1952 International Festival of Music and Drama. We even have the menu from his official luncheon programme detailing anchovy canapés completing a four course meal.

For a complete picture of the city during the Fifties, visit our Whose Town? Edinburgh in the 1950s exhibition.

Take a look at our Royals in Edinburgh exhibition to see pictures of the Queen's Coronation visit to Edinburgh in 1953 and community Coronation street parties.