How Daily Express reported most poignant moments of Queen Elizabeth’s reign

The Queen’s coffin arrives at Buckingham Palace

The Daily Express has followed the Royal Family through all the ups and downs of the Queen’s remarkable 70-year reign – here, shares how we reported on all the biggest moments in history.

Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI. The new monarch was just 25 years old and on a Commonwealth tour at the time. Due to George’s declining health, then-Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip travelled to Kenya. It was there the royal learned of her father’s death and became sovereign. 

On February 7, 1952, The Daily Express front page read: “The night Princess Elizabeth became Queen without knowing it she was dressed in brown slacks and a bush jacket, and never went to bed or took her clothes off. She spent the whole night in the fabulous Treetops Hotel in a giant fig tree overlooking a waterhole in the Aberdare Forest game reserve.”

George died peacefully in his sleep at Sandringham, the royal estate in Norfolk. News of his death did not reach the Princess until the following day. 

Elizabeth was said to be devastated but reacted with a sense of duty. She and Philip returned to London and she was proclaimed the new British monarch. 

At the time, the couple had two young children — then-Prince Charles and Princess Anne; they later welcomed two more — Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. 

READ MORE: Queen’s final journey: Charles, William, Harry, Andrew, Anne and Edward lead procession

Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen reigned for over 70 years, meaning the monarch lived through decades of historic events (Image: Getty Images)

Fresh details published on how public can attend Queen’s lying in state across five days

Full details have been released to the public about how thousands of people will be able to file past the late Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin as it lies in state for five days.

Here is everything you need to know.

Queen Elizabeth II's coffin

On February 20, 1960, the Daily Express marked the birth of Andrew, the Queen and Duke’s second son.  

The front page read: “A lovely boy says the doctor”. 

Andrew was the first baby born to a reigning Queen for 103 years; upon his birth, he became second-in-line to the throne. 

The Daily Express wrote: “This is the baby whose grandchildren in the next century may be the first to bear the new ‘junior’ Royal Family name of Mountbatten-Windsor.”

Edward, the Queen and Prince Philip’s youngest child, was born on March 10, 1964. 

“Bonny boy,” opened the Daily Express’ front-page report, with photographs showing a smiling Queen and numerous reporters stationed outside of Buckingham Palace.

Daily Express front page February 20, 1960

Prince Andrew was born on February 19, 1960 (Image: The Daily Express)

Daily Express front page March 10, 1964

Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son was born on March 10, 1964 (Image: The Daily Express)

The report read: “The Queen had a son, her fourth child at Buckingham Palace last night — an “easy birth,” said family doctor Sir John Weir, “and a bonny baby”. 

His name was not revealed but it was speculated that “the Queen seems to like Stuart names, James springs to mind. “David. I am sure, would be popular. Other possibilities are Rupert or Robert.”

It was not until weeks later that the name Edward was chosen and reported. 

At this point, the Queen was 38 years old and 13 years into her reign. 

Two years later, disaster struck in a small mining village in south Wales, an event that the monarch never forgot and was said to be one of the biggest regrets of her reign. 

Daily Express front page October 22, 1966

The Aberfan disaster was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip on October 21, 1966 (Image: The Daily Express)

October 21, 1966 – Aberfan disaster

“Death’s dark vale,” reads the headline of the Daily Express on Saturday, October 22, 1966. “Where a school stood, 138 feared lost.” 

A total of 116 children and 28 adults were killed when a colliery spoil tip collapsed, catastrophically engulfing a primary school and surrounding houses on October 21, 1966. 

The Daily Express report read: “As hundreds of rescuers toiled through the night under floodlights trying to halt a moving, mountain of slag, it was feared the death roll at Aberfan would be at least 138 — most of them children trapped in school.”  

It continued: “In the wake of disaster, the Queen sent a message of sympathy, and It was announced Prince Philip will visit the area today.”

Queen Elizabeth II visits Aberfan

The Queen visited the village eight days after the disaster (Image: Getty Images)

Philip, Lord Snowdon and then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson visited the scene, but the Queen waited eight days before going to the village, arriving shortly after a mass funeral had taken place. Her delayed visit attracted some criticism and years later the Queen’s private former private secretary, the late Lord Martin Charteris, admitted he felt he had given her poor advice. 

He said: “We told her to stay away [from Aberfan] until the preliminary shock had worn off,” adding that it was the biggest regret of her reign. 

April 4, 1968 – Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by a sniper in Memphis. 

The Daily Express report read: “Dr King — who has faced several previous assassination attempts — was in Memphis to lea .strike marches.”

It continued: “He had just stepped out onto a balcony with the Rev. Jesse Jackson when a single shot was fired — either from a building opposite or from a car parked in the street.”

Daily Express front page April 5, 1968

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 (Image: The Daily Express)

Mr Jackson told the paper: “He had just told a friend: ‘My man, be sure to sing “Blessed Lord” tonight — and sing it well.’ When I heard the shot I pushed him down.”

Later that year, the Queen paid tribute to the late activist in her Christmas broadcast, which took the theme of brotherhood. She said: “Today I have spoken of ‘the brotherhood of man’ and the hope it holds out for the world. This should not remain a vague thought nor an abstract idea. Each of us can put it into practice by treating one another with kindness and consideration at all times and in spite of every kind of provocation.

July 20, 1969 – Apollo 11 moon landing

“Man steps onto the moon,” donned the front page of the Daily Express on July 21, 1969. It came after millions watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land at precisely 9.17pm BST (8.17pm UTC). 

When Commander Armstrong told NASA’s Mission Control the “Eagle has landed”, it was clear the mission was a success. 

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Daily Express front page July 21, 1969

Men landed on the moon in July 1969, marking a major historic moment (Image: The Daily Express)

Reporting from Houston, Texas, were Robin Esser, Ross Mark and Richard Kilian. They wrote: “Man set foot on the Moon at 3.56 this morning. Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin brought the time for their walk on the lunar surface forward by four hours. 

“The change of plan was decided on two hours after the landing craft had touched down in the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility. The astronauts’ doctor, Dr Charles Berry, said: ‘It would have been virtually impossible for them to go to sleep when they were excited.’

“Armstrong, the mission commander, was first down the ladder on to the Moon as planned. As he set foot on the lunar surface he said: ‘That’s one small step for man, but one giant leap for mankind.’” 

A message from the Queen was carried to the lunar surface during NASA’s Apollo 11 mission and was placed at the landing site.  Her message read: “On behalf of the British people I salute the skills and courage which have brought man to the moon. May this endeavour increase the knowledge and well-being of mankind.” 

Share your memories and stories of the Queen with Express

The Queen was known for her devotion to the nation, but will also be remembered for her quick quips and her colourful fashion sense. Many fans across the nation will be in mourning today and here at we want to remember the brilliant stories we all have about the Queen.

May 4, 1979 — Margaret Thatcher becomes UK prime minister

10 years later, on May 4, 1979, Margaret Thatcher made history as the first female British prime minister. 

Written alongside a photograph of Ms Thatcher waving outside No.10 Downing Street were the words: “The moment Margaret Thatcher stepped into history.” 

“On the steps of 10 Downing Street she softly quoted the prayer of St Francis of Assisi for harmony, truth, faith and hope. And she pledged: ‘I shall strive unceasingly to try to fulfil the trust and confidence the British people have put in me.’ 

“Mrs Thatcher also quoted the words of her assassinated colleague Airey Neave. “Now there is work to be done.” 

Daily Express front page May 5, 1979

Margaret Thatcher became the first British female prime minister on May 4, 1979 (Image: The Daily Express)

“And last night, alone at the Cabinet table, in the chair no woman has ever occupied, her task began.”

July 29, 1981 – Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer

After several years of speculation over when Charles — a known bachelor — would find a wife, the then-Prince married Lady Diana Spencer in a spectacular wedding at Westminster Abbey. 

The Daily Express described a moment after the wedding, when the new couple appeared on Buckingham Palace balcony as “the tender moment that crowned the happiest day of all.” 

It continued: “The kiss that delighted the world. Charles and his new Princess share their joy with millions after their fairytale wedding.” 

Daily Express front page July 30, 1981

Charles and Diana got married in Westminster Abbey on July 29, 1981 (Image: The Daily Express)

Charles and Diana were married for 15 years and welcomed two sons — Prince William and Prince Harry. 

Nov. 9, 1989 – Fall of the Berlin Wall

After days of mass protesting, “East Germany opened the Berlin Wall,” and “told Its 16 million citizens they were free to leave at last…

“Hundreds of people surged across the border within hours of the dramatic announcement from East Germany that its travel restrictions were lifted.”

At this point, it was “acknowledged that the Wall may even come down.”

Much of the wall was torn down by people chipping away as they celebrated the end of a divided Germany. 

Daily Express front page November 10, 1989

The Berlin Wall was opened on November 9, 1989 and eventually came down in October 1990 (Image: The Daily Express)

Queen’s funeral guest list in full: All the royals and world leaders confirmed so far

Westminster Abbey’s 2,000-person capacity is expected to be filled to honour Britain’s longest-reigning monarch next week.

The event will be one of the largest diplomatic occasions of the century and the guest list is expected to include politicians, world leaders, and European royals.

See the guest list in full HERE.

On October 3, 1990, Germany was officially reunified into a single country.

November 20, 1992 – Fire at Windsor Castle

On November 20, 1992, Windsor Castle suffered extensive damage in a huge fire, which burned for almost 12 hours and made headline news across the world. 

The Daily Express reported: “The Queen was devastated last night as the full horror of the Windsor Castle disaster dawned.”

Her Majesty had “rushed to Windsor” as firefighters battled to control the blaze.

Prince Andrew told the paper: “Her Majesty is absolutely devastated. She is inside the building, helping to take stuff out — works of art and other things — as a precaution. She is taking pictures off the walls of her own apartments and some of the other private apartments.”

Daily Express front page November 21, 1992

A fire at Windsor Castle ‘devastated’ the Queen (Image: The Daily Express)

While it is known that the fire started when a curtain in the castle’s private chapel caught light — “exactly how remains a mystery,” the Daily Express reported.

August 31, 1997 – Princess Diana and Lover Dodi Die in Paris Car Crash

In the early hours of August 31, 1997, Princess Diana and her partner, Dodi Al-Fayed died in a car crash in Paris. The couple had been travelling from the Ritz hotel when their vehicle collided with a pillar at high speed. 

The Daily Express’ front page opened: “Diana is dead… Princess and Dodi killed in a car crash.” 

It continued: “The couple were being pursued by paparazzi at speeds of up to 100mph when their car careered into the central reservation of a tunnel, before rolling over several times and smashing into the tunnel wall.” 

Daily Express front page August 31, 1997

Princess Diana was killed in a car crash on August 31, 1997 (Image: The Daily Express)

The news triggered a national outpouring of grief, as the Princess’ death was mourned across the country. 

April 10, 1998 — End to the Troubles in Northern Ireland

On April 10, 1998, a historic deal was made to bring an end to a period of conflict Northern Ireland — named The Troubles. 

The Daily Express reported that those in the region now had “the chance to live in peace, the chance to raise children out of the shadow of fear.” 

On Good Friday, Tony Blair said: “In doing what we have done today, we have carried out what we believe to be the will of the overwhelming majority of the people of Northern Ireland: The chance to live in peace, the chance to raise children out of the shadow of fear.

Daily Express front page April 11, 1998

The Good Friday agreement was signed on April 10, 1998 (Image: The Daily Express)

“That Is all the people of Northern Ireland have ever asked for.”

September 11, 2001 – 9/11 attacks

“Declaration of war,” was printed on the front page of the Daily Express on September 12, 2001, the day after two planes flew into the World Trade Centre and another hit the Pentagon. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks that day. 

Al Qaeda, a terrorist group based in Afghanistan and lead by Osama bin Lade, claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. 

Al Qaeda and bin Laden considered the US to be their enemy and sought to attack important buildings in the country.

Daily Express front page September 12, 2001

September 11, 2001 marked the 9/11 attacks which saw planes crash into important US buildings (Image: The Daily Express)

In October 2001, the United States and its allies started military actions in Afghanistan, searching for members of al Qaeda who worked with bin Laden to plan and carry out the 9/11 attacks. It would take nearly 10 years for these forces to locate and kill bin Laden himself, who was eventually discovered hiding in nearby Pakistan in May 2011.

April 29, 2011 – Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton

On April 29, 2011, Westminster Abbey was the backdrop for the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, now Catherine, Princess of Wales. 

Just like 30 years prior, when Charles married Diana, William and Kate appeared on Buckingham Palace balcony and sealed the moment with a kiss, or as the Daily Express reports, “a double kiss”. 

Daily Express front page April 30, 2011

William and Kate got married on April 29, 2011 at Westminster Abbey (Image: The Daily Express)

The report read: “Daily Express photographer Tim Clarke captures the magical moment on the balcony at Buckingham Palace that thrilled billions of fans around the world.” 

June 23, 2016 — Brexit referendum vote

A “historic day for Britain” came on June 23, 2016, when the country voted to leave the European Union. 

The Daily Express reported: “On a night of high drama, early results suggested a surprise surge for Leave, sparking panic in the money markets. The pound plunged as initial signs of a big victory for Remain were tempered by unexpectedly big Leave votes in some areas.” 

Daily Express front page June 24, 2016

Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23, 2016 (Image: The Daily Express)

A photograph showed the Chelsea Pensioners outside the polling station, queuing up “to have their say”. 

May 19, 2018 – Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

In May 2018, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, a union that was seen as a symbol of hope for a modernising monarchy. 

“So in love,” opened the front-page report alongside a photograph of Harry and Meghan outside of St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, where they tied the knot. 

Daily Express front page May 20, 2018

On May 19, 2018, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor (Image: The Daily Express)

March 11, 2020 – COVID-19 declared a global pandemic

“Worst public health crisis in a generation…Up to 10,000 in Britain are infected…Call to mobilise millions to help each other,” donned the front page in the days after COVID-10 was declared a global pandemic. 

The Daily Express reported that Boris Johnson had “declared coronavirus as the ‘worst public health crisis for a generation’ and warned that many more people will die.”

It was just over a week before UK Government announced the first nationwide lockdown — on March 23, 2020 — and almost a year before the third and final lockdown came to an end. 

As of today, over 200,000 people died within 28 days of being identified as a COVID-19 case. 

Daily Express front page March 11, 2020

COVID-19 was the ‘worst public health crisis for a generation’, Boris Johnson said (Image: The Daily Express)

June 2-5, 2022 – Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

This year marked Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, celebrating 70 years on the throne. 

Celebrations culminated in a four-day bank holiday weekend which saw events take place across the country to honour Britain’s longest-serving monarch’s historic reign. 

On Monday, June 6, the day after the celebrations had come to a close, the Daily Express’ front cover showed a photograph of the Queen and an image of the crowds who had flooded to Buckingham Palace. 

Daily Express front page June 6, 2022

The Queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in June 2022 (Image: The Daily Express)

The headline read: “My heart has been with you all,” and quoted Her Majesty’s personal message of thanks to the nation. 

“Her Majesty, clearly overwhelmed by the public show of affection towards her, responded by declaring how “humbled” and “deeply touched” she feels towards the millions who have celebrated her Platinum Jubilee,” the report continued. 

It marked a monumental milestone for the late monarch and a memorable occasion for the country.