Elizabeth E[i] from West Yorkshire will be celebrating her 90th birthday on 21 April 2016. She shares this special day, as well as her first name, with Queen Elizabeth II.
In contrast to the Queen’s lavish celebrations, Elizabeth will be celebrating her 90th birthday with her Independent Age volunteer visitor, Jacoba Oldham[ii]. She doesn’t yet know what’s planned for the day but Jacoba has promised to bring a birthday cake.
Born on 21 April 1926, the same day as the Queen, Elizabeth E is a big fan of the monarch and has keenly followed her life and reign. When she was born, her father wrote to the father of the princess, the then Duke of York who would later become King George VI. Elizabeth has continued this tradition by writing to the Queen on some of their shared birthdays.
In April 1986, on their 60th birthdays, the Queen’s Lady in Waiting replied to wish Elizabeth a happy birthday, and for their 80th birthday celebrations, Elizabeth received a card from the Queen herself, which said: “I’m pleased to know that you celebrate your 80th birthday on 21 April 2006 and I send my warmest wishes on this shared occasion.” Elizabeth says that just sharing her birthday with the Queen makes it a special occasion each year.
Elizabeth was born at home in Yorkshire, with a midwife coming to stay with the family for about a month. She had one sister who was 7 ½ years older than her, whom she remained close to throughout her life. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London, and also had one sister, Princess Margaret.
Elizabeth remembers her favourite meal as a child being “Sunday lunch and having roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings”. She says her mother was a “wonderful cook” and that she also enjoyed cooking when she was younger.
Towards the end of World War II, Elizabeth worked in the Royal Observer Corps, which involved plotting aircraft and tracking their position. This information would then be passed to the RAF and would also be used to issue air-raid warnings in British cities, saving many civilians’ lives. Elizabeth says it was interesting but, although the work itself wasn’t difficult, it was very tiring due to the long hours. Meanwhile the young Princess Elizabeth joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945, and trained as a driver and mechanic.
Elizabeth got married in her late thirties – later in life compared to other women of her generation - and was married to her husband for around 40 years, until his passing in 2005. Although they didn’t have any children themselves, her older sister had three children, and Elizabeth was often “roped in” to help with them in their childhood. She has lived in Yorkshire her whole life.
Elizabeth worked as a local government officer, her last role was as a secretary to the school meals department. She retired 30 years ago and now spends much of her time sewing and knitting. She is currently knitting an outfit for her great, great niece, who was born just two weeks ago.
Elizabeth doesn’t remember what she did at the time of the Queen’s Coronation, but watched the Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977 and the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002 on TV.
Elizabeth says, “Memories fade into the background as you get older. It’s difficult to remember everything that’s happened.”
Until November 2015, when she had a fall, Elizabeth tried to keep quite active. Since then, she has been determined to get back on her feet and get out and about walking again. She is already able to walk around her flat and hopes to be able to go outside again soon.
Elizabeth is a sociable person and gets on well with the other residents of her sheltered housing complex.
She says, “They’re all nice people, but not being able to get out of the flat is difficult. I have great nieces who visit me, but they’re so busy I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. I’m hoping my great niece will bring her two-week old baby to visit soon.