The Odd Kansas Connection to Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her Platinum Jubilee - 70 years on the throne of Great Britain. Few people are aware of the Kansas connection to her unexpected rise to power - and her reign as the longest serving monarch in British history. KPR's J. Schafer reports.
Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her Platinum Jubilee - 70 years on the throne of Great Britain. Few people are aware of the Kansas connection to her unexpected rise to power. The story is long and meandering. That's why The Crown, the Netflix series about the Queen, has so many episodes. Something the series doesn't address, however, is the small but significant Kansas connection to why she wound up wearing the crown. KPR's J. Schafer has more.
Don't have time to listen? Here's the bottom line:
Queen Elizabeth II was never supposed to be queen.
She became queen when her father unexpectedly died.
Her father was never supposed to be king.
He became king when his older brother unexpectedly abdicated.
The older brother abdicated the throne because the Anglican Church and the British government wouldn't let him marry a twice-divorced American socialite named Wallis Simpson. The main issue wasn't that she was a commoner or an American. It was that she was divorced - and worse - her first ex-husband was still alive!
And who was Wallis Simpson's first ex-husband? A guy named Earl, from Kansas.
Earl Spencer's divorce from the future Duchess of Windsor (Wallis Simpson) led to a ripple effect: one king abdicated, which was followed by the death of another king, which resulted in a 25-year-old princess becoming queen. Since her coronation in 1953, the image of Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on billions of stamps, coins and currency across the British Commonwealth.
The childhood home of Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr. still stands today in Kinsley. Stop by the Kinsley Public Library and ask Joan Weaver for directions. Learn more about this community in southwest Kansas.