Queen Elizabeth II was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, in London, to Prince Albert, Duke of York (later known as King George VI), and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
At the time of her birth, most people did not realize Elizabeth would someday become the queen of Great Britain. Elizabeth, nicknamed Lilibet, got to enjoy the first decade of her life with all the privileges of being a royal without the pressures of being the heir apparent.
Elizabeth’s father and mother divided their time between a home in London and Royal Lodge, the family’s home on the grounds of Windsor Great Park. Elizabeth and her younger sister Margaret were educated at home by tutors. Academic courses included French, mathematics and history, along with dancing, singing and art lessons.
With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Elizabeth and her sister largely stayed out of London, having been relocated to Windsor Castle. From there she made the first of her famous radio broadcasts in 1940, with this particular speech reassuring the children of Britain who had been evacuated from their homes and families. The 14-year-old princess, showing her calm and firm personality, told them “that in the end, all will be well; for God will care for us and give us victory and peace.”
Elizabeth soon started taking on other public duties. Appointed colonel-in-chief of the Grenadier Guards by her father, Elizabeth made her first public appearance inspecting the troops in 1942. She also began to accompany her parents on official visits within Britain.
Ascension to the Crown
When Elizabeth’s grandfather George V died in 1936, his eldest son (Elizabeth’s uncle) became King Edward VIII. Edward, however, was in love with American divorcée Wallis Simpson and had to choose between the crown and his heart. In the end, Edward chose Simpson and abdicated the crown.
The event changed the course of her life, making her the heir presumptive to the British crown. Her father was crowned King George VI in 1937, taking on the name George to emphasize continuity with his father. Her mother became Queen Elizabeth; on King George’s death in 1952, she became Queen Mother and her daughter became Queen Elizabeth II.
Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, in Westminster Abbey, at the age of 25.
Elizabeth assumed the responsibilities of the ruling monarch on February 6, 1952, when her father, King George VI, died. For the first time ever, the coronation ceremony was broadcast on television, allowing people from across the globe to witness the pomp and spectacle of the event.
In 2022, the nation celebrated Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee year. She was the first British monarch to reach that milestone, which marks 70 years on the throne.
Elizabeth died peacefully at her Balmoral estate on September 8, 2022. She was 96 years old.
May the Queen Rest in Peace