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February 8

In 1952, on this day Elizabeth II was proclaimed Queen of the United Kingdom.
This post was written by Dirk Puehl the highly recommended author of #onthisday #history Google+ posts.

Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor, Queen of HeartsDirk Puehl writes - "The sovereign has under a constitutional monarchy such as ours, three rights - the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn". (Walter Bagehot, 1867)

When the "Maléter Note" reached the British Foreign Ministry, a warning by the commander of an armoured division stationed in Budapest that the Soviets were about to crush the Hungarian insurgents on October 29th, the young Queen Elizabeth II, in office for just three years was shown top secret government papers for the first time - in this particular case the plans of the imminent Anglo-French invasion of Egypt.

It was probably her estrangement towards Winston Churchill and his opposition against the dismemberment of the Empire that made the young Queen remind Prime Minister Anthony Eden of his promise "peace comes first, always" - and a remarkably farsighted assessment of Great Britain's post-war role. The US and Soviets already struggling for influence in the Near and Middle East would not let a war against Egypt go unpunished - and the US special allies could hardly condemn a Soviet invasion of Hungary and support a Western attack on Egypt, especially with Eisenhower's support of the decolonisation process.

The young queen's exertion of influence behind the scenes did cause some upheaval in British and French military circles, but the task force of 6 six allied aircraft carriers and a battleship did nothing but threaten off the Egyptian coast - while Khrushchev threatened the UK, France and Israel with a massive "rocket attack" should they dare to attack Nasser's Egypt or the Suez Canal - and invaded Hungary. A signal towards potential Arab allies about how the Soviet Union would treat their foederati if they didn't toe the line. A major setback for Soviet influence in the Middle East.

The first immediate lesson the U.K. as well as France learned beyond ultra-conservative sabre-rattling was the necessity of a third power in the emerging cold war if both ex world powers wouldn't want to be on the drip of either the US and the USSR forever - the latter's foreign minister Molotov made France an offer almost too good to refuse: French neutrality and withdrawal from the NATO versus cessation of Soviet support for Algerian rebels.

But Prime Minister Guy Mollet decided to stick to the West - and, not without the leverage of the new "Queen of Hearts", arranged the quiet integration of France into the Commonwealth of Nations - with Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway following within the next five years. The third power, the Commonwealth, had indeed been established in the Mid-Sixties.