The Croydon woman who delivered the Queen
THE Royal Family knew her affectionately as 'Nannie B' and during her career as a midwife she held a proud record of never having lost a baby during childbirth.
On Tuesday, the country will come together to celebrate the reign of Annie Beever's most famous delivery – Queen Elizabeth II, born on April 21, 1926.
Few people realise the Royal Midwife, who helped bring two princesses into the world, lived in Whitehorse Lane, South Norwood.
Nannie B is even buried in Queen's Road Cemetery in Thornton Heath.
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She lived a private life, shunning the media attention which came with her job, but was never far from the thoughts of the Royal Family.
"The news of her recent death, at the age of 81, was withheld from the Queen and the Princesses until after Christmas," read a report in the Croydon Times after Nannie B died in 1947.
"Only a week before, the Queen had sent her a bouquet of carnations and chrysanthemums as she lay ill with bronchitis and pneumonia."
Ms Beever's amazing story has been rediscovered on the year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee by history enthusiast Adrian Falks.
The retired social worker unearthed the tale while researching for another local heritage project.
He said: "It was a complete coincidence I found Nannie B's story this year of all years.
"It's lovely that people are showing so much interest in her.
"I hope that somewhere in the Royal Archives there will be a lot more information about this remarkable lady, who obviously valued her privacy a great deal."
Ms Beevers led a fascinating life. Her husband died while she was in her twenties, leaving her to raise her young son on her own.
She trained as a midwife at what was then the London Hospital but it was only when she took up private nursing that her reputation began to spread.
"She was in great demand by titled households throughout the country and special arrangements were made to send her to Italy to nurse a princess," said a report in the Croydon Times on January 3, 1947.
"When she returned she vowed she would never leave England again – she was unhappy away from home – and she kept that vow."
Ms Beevers was proud of her record of never having lost a baby during 400 deliveries and kept a signed photograph of the then Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in her sitting room.
Despite her famous connections, she hated the limelight.
When Queen Elizabeth, the current queen's mother, paid a visit to her home in Whitehorse Lane, Ms Beevers told a reporter afterwards it was "purely a personal visit and it has nothing to do with the papers".
Croydon Council's cemetery tour guide Steve Dobson, whose main job is digging and maintaining graves, has now included Nannie B in his programme.
He said: "One of our local history enthusiasts came up with this fascinating piece of information.
"It's really appropriate that I've been able to add this to the tour programme in Jubilee year.
"People are really interested in the fact it was a local woman who helped bring the Queen into the world."
Sheila Lockwood, who recently attended one of the tours, said: "I couldn't believe it when the guide said the lady who delivered the Queen was born in Croydon. It's a fascinating story.
"I thought it be nice that, on this of all weeks, we took a little time to say thank you."