Queen 'danced conga on VE Day'

Last updated at 07:47 20 April 2006

The Queen danced the conga through the Ritz on VE Day, her former lady in waiting revealed today.

In a collection of reminiscences on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme ahead of the Queen's 80th birthday this week, those close to the monarch spoke of the historic event in 1945, her childhood and her role in the present day.

They told how she "came into her own" as head of the royal family after the Queen Mother died and how she sees her position on the throne as a job for life.

Jean Woodroffe, one of the Queen's first ladies in waiting, recalled how Princess Elizabeth jubilantly joined in with the Second World War victory celebrations in 1945.

"What was amusing is that we went into the Ritz hotel through one door and out of the other door, the other end, doing the conga," Ms Woodroffe said.

"And the extraordinary thing was that nobody seemed to take much notice.

"And then we stood outside Buckingham Palace with the crowd and we all shouted 'We want the King' with everybody else until the King and Queen came out onto the balcony."

The Queen's cousin Margaret Rhodes said the monarch had blossomed in recent years.

"I think in a funny way, perhaps, you know the death of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had quite a huge affect on the Queen," she told the Today Programme.

"Not only of sadness but in a way that she could come into her own as the head of the family and as the most senior royal lady."

She also talked about how she played alongside Princess Elizabeth as a child.

"When they were very small it was mostly playing at being horses.

"We were circus horses, or riding ponies or anything you like but it involved a lot of neighing, and cantering and galloping."

Childhood friend Sonia Berry first met the Queen while out with their nannies in Piccadilly when the Princess approached her saying: "Would you like to play?"

But things changed when Elizabeth's father became King.

"Obviously she was heir to the throne then. And so things became more formal. We called her Princess, we curtsied to her. She grew up a lot. She became, well, more serious," Ms Berry said.

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