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Queen Elizabeth II - Her Life in Videos

Updated on October 1, 2011

The Queen

 

Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom and fifteen other sovereign states.

She is one of the most famous women on earth but has never given an interview.

She became Queen at the age of 25, and has reigned through more than five decades of enormous social change and development.

She is married to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and has four children and eight grandchildren.

Apart from the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II is also Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, where she is represented by Governors-General. The sixteen countries of which she is Queen are known as Commonwealth Realms, and their combined population is 128 million.

Queen Elizabeth, late 1960's
Queen Elizabeth, late 1960's | Source

Elizabeth became Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ceylon upon the death of her father, George VI, on 6 February 1952. As other colonies of the British Empire (now the Commonwealth of Nations) attained independence from the UK during her reign, she acceded to the newly created thrones as Queen of each respective realm so that throughout her 55 years on the throne she has been Monarch of 32 nations, half of which either moved to different royal houses, or became republics.

She is presently the world's only monarch who is simultaneously Head of State of more than one independent nation. In legal theory she is the most powerful head of state in the world, although in practice she personally exercises very little political executive power.

The Coronation

First Royal Tour - Australia 1954

Australian Tour 1954 - Part 2

An Early Public Appearance
An Early Public Appearance

Early Life

Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, on 21 April 1926. Her father was Prince Albert, Duke of York (the future George VI) and her mother was the Duchess of York (née Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later Queen Elizabeth, and, after her daughter's accession to the throne, the Queen Mother). Her sister Princess Margaret was born 4 years later.

Elizabeth was named after her mother, while her two middle names are those of her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra, and grandmother, Queen Mary, respectively. As a child her close family knew her as "Lillibet". Her grandmother Queen Mary doted on her and George V found her very entertaining.

As a granddaughter of the British sovereign in the male line, she held the title of a British princess with the style Her Royal Highness. Her full style was Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York. At the time of her birth, she was third in the line of succession to the crown, behind her uncle the Prince of Wales, and her father. Although her birth generated public interest, there was no reason at the time to believe that she would ever become queen, as it was widely assumed that the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), would marry and have children in due course.

But Edward did not produce any legitimate heirs. Even so, if Elizabeth had had a brother, even a younger one, he would have had precedence over her in the succession. Elizabeth's parents though had no sons, so she would eventually have become queen whether Edward had abdicated or not, assuming she outlived both her uncle and her father.

In 1936 when she was 10 her uncle King Edward VIII (who became the Duke of Windsor) caused a stir by abdicating the throne to marry a twice divorced American named Wallis Warfield Simpson. His brother, Elizabeth's father, Albert was next in line to the throne and he became George VI in honor of his own father.

At the age of 13 she met 18 year old Prince Philip, her distant cousin through their descent from Queen Victoria (they are both great-great grandchildren of hers). Before they got married he renounced his royal title as a Prince of Greece and Denmark, became a British subject, and adopted the surname of his uncle Louis Mountbatten. He was named Duke of Edinburgh shortly before they got married, but was not made a Prince of the United Kingdom until 1957. They got married on November 20, 1947. One year later they had a son, Charles Philip Arthur George. In 1950 they had Anne Elizabeth Alice, in 1960 Prince Andrew and in 1964 Prince Edward.

Visit of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

Life and Times

A Monarch Respected

George VI died on 6 February 1952 while Elizabeth and Philip were in Kenya. She returned home immediately, and was crowned at Westminster Abbey in June 1953. For more than 50 years, during a period of great change in Britain, the queen has carried out her political duties as head of state, the ceremonial responsibilities of the sovereign and a large annual programme of visits in the United Kingdom as well as numerous foreign tours.

In 1977, the Queen's Silver Jubilee was celebrated in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen travelled some 56,000 miles to share the anniversary with her people. 2002 marked the 50th anniversary of The Queen's Accession to the Throne. This milestone had previously been achieved by only five other British monarchs: Henry III, Edward III, James I, George III and Queen Victoria.

Despite the controversies and scandals surrounding her children and other members of the royal family, she remains a respected head of state. In 2006 she, and her nation, celebrated her 80th birthday.

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    • Lolholder profile image

      Lolholder 

      7 years ago

      such an amazing woman. it's hard to beleive she's in her mid-eighties!

    • charmstotreasure profile image

      charmstotreasure 

      8 years ago

      She's always got it - -look, grace, personality!

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