Queen’s Birthday

Today is our holiday for the Queen’s “official” birthday (though not her actual birthday). The tradition of celebrating the British monarch’s birthday around summer began with King George II in 1748, largely to ensure fine weather for the occasion.

The Queen in 1959

Queen_Elizabeth_II_1959 Queen Elizabeth II Vladimir Tiara, Queen Victoria Jubilee Necklace, the blue Garter Riband, Badge and Garter Star and the Royal Family Orders of King George V and

On this day: Italy declares war.

Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini stands on the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia in Rome to declare war on France and Great Britain on the 10th of June, 1940.

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Mussolini_DOW_10_June_1940 Italian leader Benito Mussolini delivering his war declaration on France and Great britain from the Palazzo Venezia Balcony in Rome. Fscist dictator.

Meanwhile, in Turin in the north of the country, people gather in a piazza to listen to the declaration on the radio.

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Turin-10-6-1940 People in Charles Albert Square, Turin, listening to the radio message of Benito Mussolini from Rome, announcing the italian declaration of war, 10th June 1940.

D-Day

This image – from the 6th of June, 1944 – shows British troops taking part in the iconic Normandy landings of the Second World War.

Some 156 000 troops from more than a dozen nations took part in the invasion, which was a turning point in the war.

D-day_-_British_Forces_during_the_Invasion_of_Normandy,_6th_June_1944_B5085 D-day - British Forces during the Invasion of Normandy, 6th June 1944 .

On this day: the mysterious death of a king.

Ananda_Mahidol_portrait_photograph Portrait photograph of King Ananda Mahidol of Thailand 1930s

Ananda Mahidol, Thailand’s king Rama VIII, died on the 3rd of June, 1946. He was only twenty at the time.

A child when he was elected successor to the throne in 1935, he continued to be educated in Switzerland, not visiting Thailand as king until 1938 when he was thirteen.

Rama_8_in_stamp stamp used in Rama VIII's reign 17th April 1941 issue Thailand. Thia.

Stamp issued 17th April 1941

The Japanese invaded Thailand the same day in 1941 they bombed America’s Pearl Harbor. The young king was not in the country at the time and did not return home until the end of 1945.

Only six months later a single gunshot was heard, and Ananda Mahidol was found dead.

Ananda_Mahidol_and_Louis_Mountbatten_in_19_January_1946 King Ananda Mahidol and Louis Mountbatten on 19 January 1946. Thai History British

King Ananda Mahidol and Louis Mountbatten. 19th January 1946.

More than one theory has been put forward as to how this happened.

He was the older brother of Bhumibol Adulyadej, who inherited the title and achieved cult status in Thailand; during his long reign both locals and foreigners were imprisoned for insulting him in any way. Even “liking” a Facebook post was enough for some people to be arrested.

The circumstances around Rama VIII’s death are still debated.

On this day…

Dancers from the London Festival Ballet on the 31st of May, 1952. They are photographed on London’s Southbank.

The company was renamed the English National Ballet in 1989, and is today home to some of the world’s most famous ballet stars, many of them from overseas.

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southbank-centre-7-1444132505-view-0 Cast members of the Festival Ballet, captured mid-leap on London's Southbank, 31 May 1952.