This archive image shows George VI at his coronation as King of England on May 12, 1937, succeeding his brother Edward who abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson. He is shown here with his wife, Queen Elizabeth, and daughters Margaret (L) and Elizabeth, who would succeed him as Britain's sovereign Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. UPI fie photo | License Photo
NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb. 6, 1952 (UP) -- Britain's sovereign queen began her reign today in tears and sorrow. The former Princess Elizabeth broke down and wept when a radiotelephone call from London informed her that her father, King George VI, was dead. She personally ordered a plane prepared at once for her departure for London to take her place at the head of the British commonwealth and empire.
The official call was routed through a small country post office to Mombasa, where Elizabeth and Prince Philip had spent the night in a jungle tree-top bungalow.
It took nearly 30 minutes to get the connection through. When the princess received the news she wept openly but recovered quickly to prepare for her departure.
The queen spent happy hours in the bungalow last night, watching big game come to the watering hole at the foot of the tree.
Clad in brown slacks and a yellow bush shirt, she watched by moonlight the parade of African animals which included a rhinoceros.
This morning Elizabeth came down from the tree-top house and returned to the royal hunting lodge where the news came of her father's death.
It first reached Nairobi at offices of a local newspaper which informed the royal household. The staff decided not to alarm Elizabeth until confirmation came from Buckingham Palace. The London telephone call came through quickly.
The queen was expected to drive 80 miles from the lodge to Nairobi and there board the plane for London.
The queen's flight will follow the same route taken on the outward journey, through El Adem, Libya, thus avoiding Egypt.
Meanwhile, the ensign aboard the ship Gothic, which was to leave tomorrow with the royal couple for Australia via Ceylon, was lowered to half mast, as were all flags throughout Kenya.