Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died on Thursday, September 8th, at the age of ninety-six. During her lifetime, Elizabeth has played multiple roles as a wartime princess, young bride, caring mother, and later, through her many iterations as a ruler, matriarch and an inspiring leader to her nation and the world. During her eventful life, her country’s role in the world transformed, and so did her place within the United Kingdom.
Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952 at the tender age of 25; she became the UK’s longest reigning monarch in September 2015 when she beat Queen Victoria’s record of nearly 64 years. Elizabeth then became the world’s longest-reigning monarch and head of state when Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away in October 2016 after he had spent 70 years on the throne.
During her life, the Queen was a beloved patron to hundreds of charities and organizations and was also one of the most traveled world leaders.
Elizabeth was born on April 21st, 1926, the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York. However, Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne was sooner than expected. Her uncle, childless King Edward VIII, was abdicated in December 1936 over his romance with divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth’s father was next in line and became King George VI, putting her next in the succession. Here are a few glimpses of her remarkable leadership over the years.
Princess Elizabeth went on her first inspection of a military regiment during a parade at Windsor Castle on her sixteenth birthday. She had been granted the honorary colonel of the Grenadier Guards, symbolizing her military involvement in the war effort during World War 2. When Princess Elizabeth turned 18 in 1944, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), the women’s branch of the British Army. By the time the war ended, she had risen to become a junior commander.
Falling In Love
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s marriage was filled with love, respect, and mutual admiration. The couple first met at the Britannia Royal Naval College in 1939, where Philip, an 18-year-old cadet, was introduced to Elizabeth, the 13-year-old Princess of England, while she was touring the grounds. The two began to exchange letters during the second world war. Upon his return in 1946, his relationship with Queen Elizabeth blossomed. Despite Philip’s stately title, there was initially some resistance to the marriage from the crown. But Elizabeth was insistent, and a formal announcement was made in July 1947, with Philip’s new Anglicized last name: Mountbatten. A few months later, he renounced his right to the Greek and Danish thrones and was wed in November 1947.
A year later, on November 14th, 1948, Elizabeth gave birth to their first son, Prince Charles. Before her ascension to the throne, Elizabeth had two children, Charles and Princess Anne (1950), followed by Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964.
Queen Elizabeth II Is Crowned Queen
King George VI died on February 6th, 1952, making the 25-year-old Elizabeth queen. More than a year later, on June 2nd, 1953, she was formally crowned at Westminster Abbey in the first British coronation to be televised. At the Queen’s coronation in 1953, Prince Philip kneeled before her and swore to be her ‘liege man of life and limb.’
Staying Strong In Times Of Trouble
On November 20th, 1992, the Queen’s 45th wedding anniversary, a fire at Windsor Castle caused extensive damage that took years to repair. But that was just one of the terrible string of events that prompted the Queen to declare 1992 to be the “annus horribilis.” In March, Prince Andrew’s separation from the former Sarah Ferguson was announced. The following month, Princess Anne divorced Captain Mark Phillips. In June, Princess Diana’s tell-all book was published, whose revelations included her husband Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Celebrating 50 Years As Queen
In June 2002, the country celebrated 50 years of Elizabeth’s reign. Celebrations were held across the nation, and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh traveled to every region of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth to mark the occasion and celebrate it with the locals.
A Sorrowful Farewell
The Queen sat alone as her husband’s funeral casket was held by a military honor guard at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel for his funeral. Philip died on April 9th, 2021, at the age of 99. The funeral was four days before Queen Elizabeth’s 95th birthday.
Celebrating The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
The 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth made an appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in June during the first day of her Platinum Jubilee, marking the 70th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. She waved to thousands of people below and watched the aviation display in her honor. However, she could not attend all of the events over the next four days of celebration due to her declining health.