29 May 1660: Charles II comes for his crown

The Merry Monarch’s arrival marks the end of the republic


Charles II is remembered for his lavish parties and debauchery, but the celebration he surely enjoyed most was his 30th birthday. That was the day on which he entered London to claim his crown. His arrival was marked with pomp and splendour. His procession through the capital lasted seven hours, greeted by crowds so large and dense that his men were forced to brandish their swords to make way for the new king.

It’s not surprising that the people were excited by his return. Since Charles I’s execution in 1649, the country had mostly been a republican Commonwealth led by Oliver Cromwell. That leader’s brand of staunch Protestantism had stamped out the indulgence and excess that had formerly been associated with the ruling classes. The return of the king prom- ised the return of frivolity and fun.

The day also highlighted sobering parallels between the triumphant Charles II and his father. On his journey to the scaffold more than a decade earlier, Charles I had passed beneath the grand Rubens ceiling at Banqueting House – ironically, an allegorical testament to the glory of monarchy. In 1660, his namesake son passed beneath that same ceiling en route to ascend the throne and restore Britain’s monarchy.

His reign became known as a golden age, but one of his first acts as king was to seek revenge on the regicides – those responsible for his father’s death. The body of Cromwell was exhumed and decapitated, and every surviving man who signed Charles I’s death warrant was executed, imprisoned or exiled. | Written by Helen Carr

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29 May 1829

Sir Humphry Davy, Cornish chemist and inventor of the Davy safety lamp for miners, dies, aged 50, in Switzerland. He is buried in the Plainpalais cemetery in Geneva.

29 May 1862

English historian and chess player Henry Thomas Buckle died of typhoid in Damascus. As a result only two of the planned 14 volumes of his monumental History of Civilisation in England were ever completed.

29 May 1911

English librettist Sir William Schwenck Gilbert suffered a heart attack and drowned while trying to rescue a girl from a lake in the grounds of Grim's Dyke, his Harrow home.

29 May 1917

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, is born in Brookline, Massachusetts.

29 May 1943: Rosie the Riveter hits the headlines

The iconic image debuts on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post

At the beginning of 1943, a jaunty new song seized the imagination of the American people. From the traffic cops in the streets of Chicago to the shoeshine boys at New York’s Grand Central station, everybody was whistling it. And thousands of women working in factories across the United States knew every word of every line. After all, they were in it.

The song was ‘Rosie the Riveter’, by the Four Vagabonds. It tells the story of a girl called Rosie, working on the assembly line to build planes for the US Air Force. Her boyfriend, Charlie, is away with the Marines. But she is determined to do her bit. Wiping the grease from her sweating brow, she’s “making history, working for victory”.

‘Rosie the Riveter’ was the sensation of the season. Soon it was surging up the sales charts, and to mark the moment The Saturday Evening Post asked the nation’s most popular artist, Norman Rockwell, to design a special Rosie the Riveter cover. (Not to be mistaken for the 1942 ‘We Can Do It’ poster, also featuring a female riveter.)

Rockwell based his Rosie on a real person: a 19-year-old telephone operator, Mary Doyle. For inspiration, Rockwell turned to Michelangelo’s painting of the prophet Isaiah, on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. In place of the prophet, his picture shows Rosie munching a sandwich, her arms bulging with muscles. Her blue work shirt is covered with badges: an army production award, a V for Victory badge, even a Red Cross blood donor’s badge. Her foot rests scornfully on a copy of Mein Kampf. Behind her flies the American flag.

Rockwell’s cover became a symbol of a great national crusade, uniting millions of men and women against the tyrants of Germany and Japan. The only person who didn’t like it was Mary Doyle, who was rather slimmer than Rockwell’s Rosie. | Written by Dominic Sandbrook


29 May 1968

United Nations Security Council Resolution 253 imposes mandatory economic sanctions against white minority-ruled Rhodesia.

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