Queen Elizabeth was told her father King George IV had died by an SAS officer.

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Major Douglas Riley has revealed he learnt of the king’s death in 1952 before Elizabeth, after a telegram conveying the news failed to reach her during a tour of Africa.

Major Riley, who is thought to be the inspiration for legendary fictional spy James Bond, said: ‘I was on patrol and this farmer came up to me asking, ‘How are you getting on with the royal family? I said everything was fine but he corrected me, saying ‘No, it’s not, the king is dead.’ He had just heard the news.

‘I went to Prince Philip’s aide Commander Mike Parker and said, ‘I’ve just heard the king has died’, and he broke the news to Elizabeth.

‘It was embarrassing because one would have thought that the royal family would have heard from the governor first.’

Major Riley then had the dangerous job of escorting Elizabeth, then aged just 25, back from Kenya.

He said: ‘We had to go through a mountainous region that was plagued by Mau Mau terrorists.

‘We had the problem of escorting the queen from Treetops to Nanyuki airstrip 30 miles away which was only a patch of grass. I led the convoy in a jeep with the Queen and Prince Philip following behind in an armoured car.

‘We were very conscious of the possibility of being ambushed by the Mau Mau. We feared they might try and have a go at the new British queen.’

The royal party made it safely to Nanyuki, where they boarded a plane to Iganda’s Entebbe airport before boarding being flown back to London.