Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II was the Head of State of the United Kingdom, Head of the Commonwealth and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Her reign began on the 6th February 1952.
Queen Elizabeth II was Britain's longest-reigning monarch, beating Queen Victoria's record of 63 years and seven months on the throne. In 2022 she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee (70 years on the throne), the first British monarch to do so.
Top 10 facts
- The Queen was the elder daughter of Prince Albert, the Duke of York and his wife (Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon). She had a younger sister called Margaret Rose.
- Following the death of her grandfather King George V in January 1936, Elizabeth’s uncle David became the new King Edward VIII. In December 1936 Edward abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. Prince Albert became King George VI and the young Princess Elizabeth became heir presumptive to the throne.
- The Queen married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.
- The Queen heard of the death of her father whilst she was on tour in Kenya. Her coronation was held at Westminster Abbey on the 2 June 1953.
- She has four children – Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Andrew, Duke of York and Edward, Earl of Wessex. She also has eight grandchildren and a growing number of great-grandchildren.
- 1992 was a difficult year for the Queen, who called it her annus horribilis. Windsor Castle caught fire and the marriages of her three eldest children foundered.
- In June 2012 the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee – 60 years on the throne.
- The Queen was the constitutional monarch, that is the non-party-political head of state, of 16 of the 53 Commonwealth nations. These countries include the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica.
- There have been 12 Prime Ministers during her reign. The first of these was Sir Winston Churchill.
- As Head of State the Queen formally opens each new parliamentary session.
- 21 April 1926Birth of Princess Elizabeth
- 1936Death of George V, Coronation and Abdication of Edward VIII, Coronation of George VI. Princess Elizabeth becomes heir presumptive.
- November 1947Princess Elizabeth marries Prince Philip
- 1948Birth of Prince Charles
- 1950Birth of Princess Anne
- 6 February 1952The Queen begins her reign
- 2 June 1953Coronation of the Queen
- 1960Birth of Prince Andrew
- 1964Birth of Prince Edward
- 1977Queen’s Silver Jubilee Celebrated
- 1981Marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer
- 1982Birth of Prince William
- 1992Fire at Windsor Castle
- 2002Death of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother
- 2011Marriage of Prince William to Catherine Middleton
- June 2012Diamond Jubilee Celebrated
- 2013Birth of Prince George
- 2017Sapphire Jubilee celebrated. Queen Elizabeth II is the only British monarch to have reigned for 65 years.
- 2022Platinum Jubilee Celebrated
- September 2022Death of Queen Elizabeth II
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Did you know?
- The Queen was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor on 21 April 1926.
- In 1936 there were three kings of England.
- Princess Elizabeth first met Prince Philip when she was only thirteen.
- During WWII Princess Elizabeth joined the Womens Auxilliary Territorial Service and trained as a driver.
- The Queen is well known for her love of dogs called corgis and is also a horse enthusiast. Her first corgi was acquired by the family in 1933 and named Dookie.
- In 1947, the Queen (then the Princess Elizabeth), said: "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial family to which we all belong."
- Queen Victoria was the great great grandmother of the Queen. At the time of her death Victoria had been Queen for 63 years and 216 days, but as of September 2015 Queen Elizabeth II holds the record for Britain's longest-serving monarch.
Queen Elizabeth II was a constitutional monarch. This means that she was Head of State of the UK and the Commonwealth and of the Established Church but that political power is vested in Parliament. The decision to draft and implement laws lies with the elected government. The Queen was not involved with party politics.
The Queen represented the British people as a ceremonial leader and played an important part as a traditional figurehead. As a popular monarch the Queen enjoyed much public support over the years with events celebrating her Jubilee Anniversaries and the weddings of her children and grandchildren attracting vast crowds.
The Queen was a very wealthy woman but much of her property is held on trust which meant she could not sell it. She was involved with many charitable organisations as a patron.
The pomp and pageantry associated with the monarchy is a major attraction for tourists and brings revenue into the United Kingdom.
The traditional forms of greeting the Queen are:
- For men, a neck bow (from the head only); women do a small curtsy. Shaking hands is also acceptable!
- If you are presented to the Queen, she should be formally addressed as 'Your Majesty' and subsequently 'Ma'am'.
Since 1917, British people celebrating notable birthdays and anniversaries have received a message from the King or Queen. Cards are sent to people celebrating their 100th and 105th birthday (and every year after that), and to those celebrating their diamond wedding (60th), 65th and 70th wedding anniversaries. The Queen's congratulatory message is a card with a personalised message, in a special envelope, delivered through the post.
Just for fun...
- Lots of Queen-themed children's activities to download
- Become a Royal designer and design your own carriage, investiture medal, coat of arms and crown
- Colour in the Royal Coat of Arms
- Read a comic strip about Queen Elizabeth II!
- Download an activity sheet and colour in your own picture of Queen Elizabeth II
- Look through our Royal reads for children
Best children's books about Queen Elizabeth II
Find out more
- A children's introduction to Elizabeth II's reign
- Queen Elizabeth II's life in 92 facts from CBBC's Newsround
- See a timeline of the Queen's life
- View some of the items in the Royal Collection online
- Understand more about the Queen's working day
- Find out how Elizabeth became Queen in a CBBC Newsround guide
- Download a picture taken to mark the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II
- Visit the official website of the British Monarchy
- See a collection of photographs of the Queen throughout her life
- 15 fun facts about Queen Elizabeth II from National Geographic Kids
- Take a close look at the Imperial State Crown used in coronation ceremonies for British monarchs
- The British monarchy's law of succession explained for kids, plus the British Royal Family's current order of succession (the members of the Royal Family in the order in which they stand in line to the throne)
See for yourself
- See an image of Queen Elizabeth II from every year of her life
- Buckingham Palace is open for visitors – or some parts of it, anyway! If you'd like to peek insice the Palace from the comfort of your home, try a virtual tour of the rooms.
- Windsor Castle is also open to visitors (or you can take an online virtual tour), as well as the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland
- See Royal London with our walking-tour tips