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Thousands of people turned out to mourn the death of the Queen Mother and thousands more are set to hold street parties celebrating the Jubilee this summer - but despite this there is no doubt that celebrating Royal occasions have become a matter of public choice.

But 60-year documents revealed by an Exmouth historian show how times have changed - and Royal events in the 1950s were less optional and somewhat more compulsory.

The documents, revealed by Chris Long, includes the original letter from the Exmouth Urban District Council for a ‘reading of proclamation of Accession Queen Elizabeth II’ to the throne and the death of her father, King George VI.

The letter dated February 7 1952, shows that the service, the next day, was to be conducted by the chairman of the council, Brigadier Cameron-Webb and reads: “The chairman of the council trusts that all members of the council…, with their wives, officials, members of all organisations…together with members of the public will be present at the ceremony.”

The documents also shows the event’s seating arrangement in the Strand Gardens – including a ‘special’ cordoned-off area for ‘councillors wives’; precluding the possibility that any of the councillors were female and actually had husbands.

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