Fact-Check: Who Was Featured in the ‘1937 Photo’ of Northern Emirs, Queen Elizabeth or Princess Margaret?
Claim: An aged “1937” photo of Sultan Hassan Dan Muazu and Sarkin Gwandu Shehu with a Young British girl in England claims it was little Queen Elizabeth while others argue it’s late Princess Margaret.
The recent Facebook post accompanied by the photo states, “The relationship between Nigerian traditional institutions and the British Monarchy has come a long way… Here is two Northern leaders with a young girl described in many posts as Princess Elizabeth in 1937.”
Making clarifications in a comment, the Publisher of Daily Nigerian, Jaafar Jaafar, observed that Sultan Hassan dan Muazu, Emir of Gwandu Usuman dan Halliru and Emir of Kano Abdullahi Bayero visited London once in June 1934 not 1937 as shown in the picture cutline.
“Second, the young girl sitting between them is not Queen Elizabeth. If you compare the various pictures of the young princess in 1934, you will find out that there is no resemblance with the girl pictured here. Elizabeth had a unique hairstyle she maintained since childhood.
“Of course the party (one after another) had a brief audience with King George V (Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather) on July 2, 1934, but I doubt if royal children were allowed to meet guests. A number of retired senior colonial officers and merchants had also hosted the emirs to receptions in their residences. I believe the lass may just be a random girl met either during sightseeing, or in residence of one of the former colonial officials. Notable among the ex-colonial officers they visited was Lord Lugard in Arbinger.
Another commentator Sahabo Njidda, argues thus:
“In addition, Queen Elizabeth was born on 21st April 1926. By 1937, she would be 11yrs old. The little girl shown in the picture doesn’t seem to be that age. She doesn’t even seem to be 8yrs old, if we are to assume that the picture was taken in 1934.”
About Queen Elizabeth II:
Elizabeth II, in full Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, (born April 21, 1926, London, Eng. —died Sept. 8, 2022, Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scot.), Queen of the United Kingdom from 1952 to 2022. She became heir presumptive when her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated and her father became king as George VI
About Princess Margaret:
Princess Margaret Rose Windsor (1930–2002), Countess of Snowdon and the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II, was arguably one of the most popular royals in modern history. Known for her rebellious nature and determined personality, she made headlines around the world for her ‘party-girl’ lifestyle and her relationship with her father’s equerry Group Captain Peter Townsend – a romance that featured in the blockbuster Netflix series The Crown.
To investigate the claim PRNigeria tried to extract the image Exif file but the result returned as “no Exif metadata was found for the image.”
PRNigeria, therefore, ran a reverse image search of the photo and the results show that most publications identified the young lady in the photo as “Queen Elizabeth II,” however, this was after the earliest known post associated with the photograph online by Pinterest in 2014 and also in 2015 by Aminu Gamawa, a holder of a master’s and Ph.D. in law from Harvard Law School at Harvard University, USA.
However, shortly after his post, Gamawa who was a budget commissioner and currently
the Chief of Staff to Bauchi state governor
clarified that the lady in the photo is likely Princess Margaret, not Elizabeth.
“Correction: the girl in the 1937 picture of Sultan Hassan likely to be Late Princess Margaret, not Queen Elizabeth.”
PRNigeria made several efforts to reach him to clarify his source but it all proved abortive as his line was not connecting.
Although further digging revealed that he provided a lengthy “correction” on his Facebook page.
According to him, “I want to make an important correction regarding the description of this picture. Someone very knowledgeable made a good observation on possible error in the description of the picture. Here, below, is what he wrote: ‘But the (curator’s or editor’s) caption to the picture is wrong and misleading. If it truly is a picture of then young Elizabeth, the present Queen of England, the caption ought not to have identified her as “Queen Elizabeth II”, as it does, since she wasn’t queen when the picture was taken. She was Princess Elizabeth. The caption should have identified her as such, perhaps with the addition of “… the present Queen Elizabeth II.
” ‘Another problem I have with the picture is that having seen earlier photographs of young Elizabeth (“Lillybet” to her late uncle, Lord Mountbatten), many with her younger sister the late Princess Margaret, in my opinion, this purported one does not bear resemblance to the Queen in her younger days, as those other photographs do. Therefore, it may be well worth verifying.’
“I agree with his observation. I will post, below, another 1937 picture of Princess Elizabeth for comparison,”
PRNigeria, therefore, compared various 1937 and other growing-up photographs of then Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret and it was established that while the young girl in the image can be said to look something like little princess Margaret, she bore no resemblance to Elizabeth of 1937.
It was further established through the comparison that indeed “Lillbeth” as the late Queen Elizabeth was fondly called by her parents has maintained a trademark hairstyle which has natural curls and is also of particular interest to royal fans.
A 1937 photo of Lillibeth depicts the same hairstyle which as a young Princess, Elizabeth wore her hair down and it was around shoulder length. Thanks to her hair stylists, the Queen has maintained the structured style throughout the years.
The only notable change as widely reported was that she stopped dyeing and had worn it at varying lengths.
However, journalist Dame Esther Rantzen recently shared an insight into how Her Majesty likes her hair.
“I met somebody, who was the Queen’s hairdresser, who said that what she likes and insists upon is that her hair is entirely symmetrical,” broadcaster Dame Esther Rantzen said.
She continued: “Her hair has to look the same from one profile and then to the other, so that whatever side people are watching her from, her hair always looks exactly the same.”
Conclusion: while there is no publicly authoritative documentary to establish whether it was Princess Elizabeth or Margaret in the 1937 photo with the two Northern traditional rulers in England, a sufficient amount of knowledge indicates that it is not likely to be the late Queen Elizabeth II as a youngster.
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