Buckingham Palace was bombed by the Luftwaffe, while King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were in residence, on this day in 1940. During WWII, Buckingham Palace and it’s grounds suffered attacks on sixteen occasions, nine of which included direct hits on the Palace. After this particular bombing, the Queen famously declared: “I am glad we have been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face”.
The Palace was hit at around 11am, during the second of three daylight raids on London that day. According to the West End War:
A single German raider specifically targeted the Palace with a stick of five high explosive bombs. Two of these hit the inner quadrangle, a third struck the Royal Chapel in the South Wing and the remaining two (one delayed-action) fell on the forecourt and on the roadway between the Palace gates and the Victoria Memorial. The explosions in the quadrangle ruptured a water main and blew out most of the windows on the southern and western sides. The interior of the Royal Chapel was lacerated. Four workers were injured; one later died. Several portraits were damaged in the Palace corridors and the red carpets were lightly covered by dust.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were in residence at the Palace time of the bombing but escaped unscathed. In a letter to her mother-in-law, Queen Mary, the Queen described how she was “battling” to remove an errant eyelash from the King’s eye, when they heard the “unmistakable whirr-whirr of a German plane” and then the “scream of a bomb. It all happened so quickly that we had only time to look foolishly at each other when the scream hurtled past us and exploded with a tremendous crash in the quadrangle.” She also declared: “I am glad we have been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face”.
The event was recreated for the film Bertie & Elizabeth:
Some time afterwards, the King and Queen were accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill as they inspected the damage to the Palace.