Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II is 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 is Britain's longest-reigning monarch, beating Queen Victoria's record of 63 years and seven months on the throne. In 2017 she celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee (65 years on the throne), the first British monarch to do so.

Top 10 facts

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The Queen married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. In June 2012 the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee – 60 years on the throne.
  8. The Queen is 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.
  9. There have been 12 Prime Ministers during her reign. The first of these was Sir Winston Churchill.
  10. As Head of State the Queen formally opens each new parliamentary session.

Timeline

  • 21 April 1926
    Birth of Princess Elizabeth

  • 1936
    Death of George V, Coronation and Abdication of Edward VIII, Coronation of George VI. Princess Elizabeth becomes heir presumptive.

  • November 1947
    Princess Elizabeth marries Prince Philip

  • 1948
    Birth of Prince Charles

  • 1950
    Birth of Princess Anne

  • 6 February 1952
    The Queen begins her reign

  • 2 June 1953
    Coronation of the Queen

  • 1960
    Birth of Prince Andrew

  • 1964
    Birth of Prince Edward

  • 1977
    Queen’s Silver Jubilee Celebrated

  • 1981
    Marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer

  • 1982
    Birth of Prince William

  • 1992
    Fire at Windsor Castle

  • 2002
    Death of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother

  • 2011
    Marriage of Prince William to Catherine Middleton

  • June 2012
    Diamond Jubilee Celebrated

  • 2013
    Birth of Prince George

  • 2017
    Sapphire Jubilee celebrated. Queen Elizabeth II is the only British monarch to have reigned for 65 years.

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.

About

Queen Elizabeth II is a constitutional monarch. This means that she is 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 is not involved with party politics.

The Queen represents the British people as a ceremonial leader and plays an important part as a traditional figurehead. As a popular monarch the Queen has 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 is a very wealthy woman but much of her property is held on trust which means she cannot sell it. She is 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.

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