Remembering Elizabeth II | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week at The Archive is a sombre one, as we remember the life of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Hers was a life of duty and devotion, and we take a moment here to mark her incredible life of service, and to honour her memory.

Meanwhile, over the past seven days we have added 190,708 brand new newspaper titles, with one new newspaper title from Scotland joining us this week. We have also updated twelve of our existing publications, with significant updates in particular to the Leicester Daily Mercury.

So read on to discover more about our new and updated titles of the week, and to find out about Queen Elizabeth II’s first ever public engagement, where she acted as bridesmaid to her cousin in October 1931 at the age of five.

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Our new title this week is the Clyde Weekly News, which was founded in Dumbarton in 1992, as a weekly freesheet tabloid newspaper, a companion to the paid-for Lennox Herald. Distributed to homes in towns all along the north bank of the Clyde estuary, to the west of Glasgow, the Clyde Weekly News circulated from Clydebank in East Dunbartonshire to Dumbarton, Alexandria and Bonhill in West Dunbartonshire, all the way downstream to Helensburgh.

Clyde Weekly News | 10 March 1994

This area historically played an important part in shipbuilding and trade thanks to the River Clyde, which is the ninth-longest river in the United Kingdom. The Clyde Weekly News ceased publication in 2011.

Beyond our new title of the week, we have also updated twelve of our existing titles this week. The past seven days have seen significant updates to one of our important regional titles, namely the Leicester Daily Mercury, to which we have added over 115,000 brand new pages ranging from 1874, which was when the newspaper was founded, all the way to 1967.

The Leicester Daily Mercury was founded by journalist James Thompson (1817-1877), who was already proprietor of the Leicester Chronicle. It was to be the city of Leicester’s first ever evening newspaper, and it was published from offices at St. Martin’s, with a staff of 25 and an initial circulation of 5,000 copies.

Leicester Daily Mercury | 13 January 1932

A Liberal newspaper, which cost just one halfpenny, the publication dropped the ‘Daily’ part of its title in 1919. Circulating in the counties of Leicestershire and Rutland, and within the city of Leicester and towns including Coalville, Loughborough, Market Harborough, Hinckley and Melton Mowbray, the Leicester Mercury continues to be published to this day. Indeed, the Leicester Mercury is the sixth largest-selling regional title in England, and was named Regional Newspaper of the Year in 2001.

Another significant update of the week is the 9,000 pages we have added to the Truro-based West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, which span the years 1924 to 1949. This historic Cornish newspaper was founded in 1810 as a Liberal opposition paper to the Royal Cornwall Gazette, a title which it eventually absorbed in 1951 to become the West Briton and Royal Cornwall Gazette. Up until 2007 the newspaper claimed to be the ‘highest selling weekly newspaper in Britain,’ a claim the publication has since dropped, and it continues to be published today as the West Briton.

Meanwhile, we have made significant updates to fellow West Country title the Torbay Express and South Devon Echo, with 8,000 new pages joining the publication. We’ve also added 8,000 pages to West Bromwich title the Sandwell Evening Mail, with new pages also joining our Birmingham titles the Birmingham Weekly Mercury and the Birmingham Mail.

Queen Elizabeth II’s First Official Public Appearance

In 1931 the Leicester Daily Mercury wrote how ‘1931 will live long in the memory of Princess Elizabeth, for she made her first official public appearance in October, when she acted as bridesmaid to her cousin, Lady May Abel Smith, at her wedding at Balcombe, in Sussex.’

This event would indeed prove memorable, not just for the young Princess, as this was the first official public appearance in a life that would see many thousands of official engagements, as Princess Elizabeth became heir to the throne after the abdication of her uncle King Edward VIII, and Queen upon the death of her father, King George VI.

Princess Elizabeth, in her bridesmaid’s dress, pictured alongside her grandmother Queen Mary | The Tatler | 4 November 1931

As one might expect, the wedding of Lady May Abel Smith (née Cambridge) attracted a lot of attention from the press, mainly because one of her bridesmaids was the young Princess Elizabeth, who was then aged five.

On 15 October 1931 the Leicester Daily Mercury reported how ‘Princess Elizabeth and her eleven sister bridesmaids will be wearing beautiful necklaces of pure crystal at the wedding of Lady May Cambridge,’ who was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and a niece of Queen Mary. These necklaces were gifts from the bridegroom, Captain Henry Abel Smith, whose wedding to Lady May Cambridge was set to be attended by 400 people.

The happy couple – Lady May Cambridge and Captain Abel Smith | The Graphic | 31 October 1931

On 24 October 1931 the royal wedding hit the front page of the Leicester Daily Mercury, as it saw a royal precedent ‘of centuries broken,’ as Lady May Cambridge omitted the ‘obey’ part of her vows, at her wedding at Balcombe Church.

Crowds surround Balcombe Church, as Princess Elizabeth undertook her bridesmaid’s duties | Sunday Mirror | 25 October 1931

Thousands surrounded the church on the ‘fine Autumn day’ to get a view of the bridal party and the royal guests, which included Queen Mary. The bridal party consisted of Lady May and her twelve attendants, including Princess Elizabeth, who all wore ‘soft, powder-blue velvet’ dresses. Two other princesses, namely Princess Ingrid of Sweden and Princess Sybille of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, also served as bridesmaids.

All of the bridesmaids’ dresses had to be ‘specially dyed’ for the occasion, all bridesmaids carrying ‘bouquets of pastel-shaded anemones.’ But it was the little Princess Elizabeth who really stole the show, as she was met, alongside her father and mother, the Duke and Duchess of York, with a ‘cheer’ from the crowd, this official public appearance being the first of many, and not the first time she would steal the show.

Princess Elizabeth is pictured alongside her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York | The Graphic | 31 October 1931

Find out more about the remarkable life of Queen Elizabeth II through the pages of our newspapers, from her early life to her war service, through to her Coronation, and reign as Queen, the longest reign ever by a British monarch.

New Titles
Years Added
Clyde Weekly News 1994
Updated Titles

This week we have updated twelve of our existing titles.

You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.

Years Added
Birmingham Mail 1963, 1967
Birmingham Weekly Mercury 1959, 1975
Burton Daily Mail 1999
Chatham News 1993
Cheltenham News 1993
Evening Despatch 1904
Leicester Daily Mercury 1874, 1882-1888, 1892-1897, 1899-1901, 1903-1909, 1912-1913, 1915-1917, 1919, 1921-1922, 1929-1930, 1932, 1934, 1937, 1942, 1944-1948, 1967
Lichfield Post 1991
Sandwell Evening Mail 1977
South Wales Echo 1901
Torbay Express and South Devon Echo 1921-1922, 1925, 1954, 1976
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser 1924, 1932, 1934, 1936-1938, 1941, 1943-1949

You can keep up to date with all the latest additions by visiting the recently added page.  You can even look ahead to see what we’re going to add tomorrow.


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