Britain's elderly Home Secretary, fusty Sir William ("Jix") Joynson-Hicks, was doing his godmotherly duty. As the law required, he was standing by at the birth of a royal princeling to see that it was the genuine article. In days of yore he would have been in the bedroom, but this was 1926: Sir William waited decently outside with the nervous father, His Royal Highness, the Duke of York. Presently a small pink bundle was brought to them. Sir William peered. The bundle, third in line of succession to a royal throne, yawned magnificently. Satisfied of the infant's royalty, Sir William hurried off to break the news to the Lord Mayor of London.
Since that day, nearly 21 years ago, H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor has moved two steps nearer the throne, and has learned, among other things, never to yawn in public officials' faces.
A Million Eyes. Last week, as Britain's Royal Family wended their triumphal way through Africa (largely for the purpose of introducing Princess Elizabeth to her polyglot future subjects), she was often tempted to yawn. For weeks she had been through an endless procession of official receptions, tedious reviews, soporific speeches and tiresome dedications. On Tuesday, at Pietermaritzburg, there had been a presentation of local dignitaries, a civic luncheon party, a reception at the stadium to meet the white colony, a reception at the race track to meet the natives, a garden party at the Governor's mansion, an inspection of the guard of honor. At Gingindhlovu next day there had been more receptions, at Eshowe a vast war dance of 5,000 screaming, booming Zulu warriors and their womenfolk, naked to the waist. When Elizabeth's younger sister Margaret started to smile at the Zulus, Elizabeth reproved her with a headshake. At Durban, on Thursday, there were more addresses of welcome, displays of homage, a civic ball, a garden party, and another memorial to be dedicated. Princess Elizabeth complained to a friend that she was meeting very few young people. She pouted: "You would think that they almost forgot that Margaret and I were coming, when they planned the program." But the South Africans were sharply aware of the royal heiress.
To many a dusky African subject of King George, Queen Victoria is still remembered as "The Great She-Elephant across the Big Water." The prospect of another Queen Regnant on the British throne is scarcely less fascinating to George's white subjects. England has had only five ruling Queens since 1066, and none of their reigns has been quiet. There is an old belief in Britain that she always prospers when there is a woman on the throne.