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Neston woman who put through the call telling the Queen her father had died turns 100

"I had no idea beforehand why I was putting the call through," says Peggy

Peggy Warde, now 100 and formerly of Neston, handled the phone call which was to tell Princess Elizabeth she was Queen. Pic credit Simon Caldwell

A Neston woman who put through the call to tell Princess Elizabeth she was Queen has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Peggy Warde became a centenarian on Thursday, December 17.

Mrs Warde formerly lived in Olive Drive, Neston, with husband Fred and regularly attended at mass at St Winefride’s Roman Catholic Church until entering a care home at the age of 96 due to her increasing frailty.

But when she followed Fred to Uganda after he was offered a good job there shortly after the Second World War, she could not have foreseen the unique role she was to play in the history of the royal family.

For a time she set up as supervisor of a telephone call centre in a remote outpost not far from the Kenyan border.

However, she was suddenly drawn into the life of the British nation when she inadvertently played a role in one of the most significant events in the country’s 20th-century history.

Mrs Warde still remembers the day when she was asked to transfer the call to tell Princess Elizabeth that her father King George VI had died and that she was now Queen Elizabeth II.

Duke passed on the message

The royal party, including the Duke of Edinburgh, was visiting Kenya as part of an international tour.

She said: “I didn’t think it was important but I was placed in a room by myself and this call came through.

“They said they wanted to speak to Her Majesty. I put them through and then I had to stay on the phone to make sure it (the line) didn’t go off.

“I didn’t know the King was dead at that time but during the conversation it came out that the King was dead and that shook me up completely.

“I was absolutely staggered. It took everything out of me. I had no idea (beforehand) why I was putting the call through.”

The call had been made by a journalist covering the visit. He spoke to Prince Philip’s private secretary who passed on the message to the Duke who in turn broke the sad news to the Queen.

The profound significance of the occasion has left a deep impact on Mrs Warde with a mark on her memory which has never been erased.

A decade ago a lady in waiting wrote to Mrs Warde’s son in law to congratulate her on her 90th birthday and to say the Queen had been ‘most interested’ to learn that Mrs Warde had been supervisor of the telephone office at the time of her Accession and was touched to know she was so deeply affected ‘by the memory of that sad and historic phone call’.

Story uncovered in Shrewsbury Catholic Voice

Mrs Warde, now living on the Wirral, was adopted as a child and for three years as a teenager lived in America.

She married at 21 and after moving to Uganda returned to England in the late 1960s.

The couple settled first in Lancashire and then in the Heswall area before setting up home in Neston.

She has a daughter Patricia and a son Tony, seven grand children and 11 great grand children.

The remarkable story of the call she put through to the future Queen is is told in the Christmas edition of the Shrewsbury Catholic Voice, published by the Diocese of Shrewsbury, by editor Simon Caldwell.

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