HM Queen Elizabeth II 1926 – 2022

Royal Family website launches online condolence book following death of The Queen

Royal Family website launches online condolence book following death of The Queen Image: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty

Queen Elizabeth II was born in Mayfair, London on April 21, 1926, as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York.

Her father, Prince Albert, Duke of York, ascended the throne and became king in 1936 upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII.

This, in turn, made Elizabeth the heir presumptive, meaning that she had a claim to the throne that could be set aside by the birth of another heir.

Image: Royal Family/Twitter

As a young girl, Elizabeth spent many of her early years at the family home. Her parents remained determined to provide the future Queen with an understanding of both her privileges and her duties.

By August 21, 1930, Elizabeth had a little sister, Margaret.

Just five years later in 1936 things began to change most dramatically for the still young princess. On January 20, 1936, King George V died.

By the end of 1937, at the young age of 11, Elizabeth’s life had taken an irrevocable turn. Edward’s abdication from the throne saw her father crowned King George VI.

“War has ended” - King George VI, 1945
“War has ended” – King George VI, 1945. Image: Royal Family/Twitter

Quick as a flash, Elizabeth was Heiress Presumptive to the Throne.

With the ensuing obligatory move to Buckingham Palace, Elizabeth was maturing into her role as the future head of the Monarchy and her attitude towards her duty was steadfast.

Princess Elizabeth soon decided it was time to show that she was ready for the full weight of her Royal responsibilities.

In an effort to help boost morale, she embarked on a series of national visits with the King and Queen.

At the tender age of 16, in 1943, Princess Elizabeth made her first solo public appearance, a visit to the Grenadier Guards.

At the age of 19, Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). After joining, she trained as a driver and mechanic with the rank of Second Subaltern.

Five months later she was promoted to Junior Commander, which was the equivalent of Captain. Her younger sister Princess Margaret was a Girl Guide and later joined the Sea Rangers.

HM The Queen meeting Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in 1952.
HM The Queen meeting Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in 1952. Image: Royal Family/Twitter

On her twenty-first birthday, April 21 1947, Princess Elizabeth, while with her parents and younger sister on a tour of South Africa, the Princess dedicated her life to the service of the Commonwealth in a speech broadcast on the radio from Cape Town.

Her iconic speech began: “Let me begin by saying thank you to all the thousands of kind people who have sent me messages of goodwill. This is a happy day for me; but it is also one that brings serious thoughts, thoughts of life looming ahead with all its challenges and with all its opportunity.”

Shortly after in August 1947, Elizabeth announced her engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and great-great-grandson of Britain’s former monarch, Queen Victoria.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince, London, June 2017
Queen Elizabeth and Prince, London, June 2017. Image: Lorna Roberts/

The announcement wasn’t much of a surprise and was met with plenty of positivity, both among the British public and senior officials.

Even the usually fickle British press commented that this was, “clearly a match of choice not arrangement.”

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were married on November 20th 1947 in Westminster Abbey.

HM Queen Elizabeth II had her first child, Charles, when she was 22 years old. Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, was born in 1948.

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, was born in 1950.

On February 6, 1952, came the bombshell news that George VI, who was a heavy smoker, had died of lung cancer at the age of just 56. While it was well-known that the King was not in good health, no one was prepared for him to die so young.

His daughter received the news of her father’s death while on an official tour in Africa.

The Queen and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, immediately returned to Britain, where, at the age of just 26, she took up the heavy duties of Queen of England, the United Kingdom and other realms.

The first three months of her reign, the period of full mourning for her father, were passed in comparative seclusion.

In the summer, after she had moved from Clarence House to Buckingham Palace, the Queen undertook the routine duties of the sovereign and carried out her first state opening of Parliament on November 4, 1952.

Her coronation was held at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. 

Image: Royal Family/Twitter

Beginning in November 1953, the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh made a six-month round-the-world tour of the Commonwealth, which included the first visit to Australia and New Zealand by a reigning British monarch.

In 1957, after state visits to various European nations, she and the Duke visited Canada and the United States.

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was born in 1960.

In 1961 The Queen made the first royal British tour of the Indian subcontinent in 50 years.

1972 saw the death of a former King, Edward VIII, now known as the Duke of Windsor. The health of The Duke of Windsor, who was still living in Paris, had been deteriorating for some time. Ten days after The Queen had called upon her uncle in Paris, he died.

The 1970s saw the first of Elizabeth’s children to marry, Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey on 14th November 1973.

The decade also saw the first member of Elizabeth’s immediate family divorce. In March 1976 Princess Margaret’s announcement was made regarding her separation and divorce soon followed.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Queen Elizabeth continued to travel extensively. In 1973 she attended the Commonwealth Conference in Ottawa, Canada, and in 1976 travelled to the United States for the 200th-anniversary celebration of America’s independence from Britain.

A young Queen Elizabeth II. Image: McCarthys-PhotoWorks/

More than a week later she was in Montreal, Canada, to open the Summer Olympics.

In 1979, she travelled to Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, which garnered international attention and widespread respect.

On October 17 1980, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made history by becoming the first British monarch to travel to the Vatican, to meet the Pope. The Queen and Prince Philip were welcomed by Pope John Paul II.

The Queen’s worse decade seemed to run from 1986 to 1996.

Throughout these years three of the Queen’s four children were divorced, with Charles’s fairytale marriage imploding into “the war of the Wales.”

On November 20, 1992, Windsor Castle burnt down. In the Queen’s 40th anniversary speech to guests at London’s Guildhall, she admitted: “1992 is not a year I shall look back on with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.”

HM The Queen and Prince Philip. Image: Commonwealth Org/Twitter

In the early hours of August, 31 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, died from injuries she sustained earlier that day in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France.

The Queen returned from Balmoral and returned to London where she lowered the flag and made an unprecedented TV address.

In 2002. The Queen sadly lost the two women who knew her best. Her sister, Margaret, died on February 9, 2002.

Just weeks later on March 3, 2002, the Queen’s mother died in her sleep at the Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park, with her surviving daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, at her bedside. She had been suffering from a chest cold for the previous four months.

Image: Royal Family/Twitter

After many years of “can they, can’t they”, Charles and Camilla finally married in 2005. The Queen, as head of the Church of England, did not attend the civil ceremony but is present at the church blessing, and threw a big party afterwards.

The Queen was hailed in 2011 when she became the first British monarch to travel to the Republic of Ireland in 100 years. The following year she put any personal feelings aside and shook the hand of former IRA commander, Martin McGuinness.

The Royal 2012 diamond jubilee was declared a success as The Queen survived being buffeted and soaked on a barge during the Thames river pageant, though Prince Philip ended up being taken to hospital with a bladder infection.

Image: Lorna Roberts/

In July 2013, the queen welcomed a new great-grandson, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, the first child of Prince William and the former Kate Middleton, who married in 2011.

On April 9, 2021, Prince Philip, Elizabeth’s husband of 73 years, died at the age of 99.

The phenomenal British monarchy’s longest-running love story began just before World War II, when 18-year-old Prince Philip of Greece met his third cousin, Princess Elizabeth, during her family’s visit to the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.

Prince Philip supported his wife in her royal duties and took on an ambitious slate of obligations of his own.

Prince Philip’s funeral was held on April 17, 2021.

Because of coronavirus restrictions, only 30 guests were invited to attend. Photos of the queen sitting alone in St. George’s Chapel struck many as a symbol of her loneliness and grief.

HM The Queen meeting Paddington Bear. Platinum Party at The Palace at Buckingham Palace on June 4, 2022. Image: Royal Family/Twitter

On February 6, 2022 (at the age of 95 years and 291 days), The Queen became the first British monarch to reign for 70 years and celebrate a platinum jubilee.

HM Queen Elizabeth II’s extraordinary reign has seen her travel more widely than any other monarch, undertaking many historic overseas visits.

Known for her sense of duty and her devotion to a life of service, she has been an important figurehead for the UK and the Commonwealth during times of enormous social change.

The Queen saw public and voluntary service as one of the most important elements of her work.

The Queen had links – as Royal Patron or President – to over 600 charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organisations.

These varied from well-established international charities to smaller bodies working in a specialist area or on a local basis only.

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Written by

Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 19 years. She is passionate about her animal family including four dogs and four horses, musicals and cooking.