Updated: Jun 6, 2022
Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom & 14 other Commonwealth realms (Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu).
Royal titles and styles;
21 April 1926 – 11 December 1936: Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York (as daughter of the Duke & Duchess of York)
11 December 1936 – 20 November 1947: Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth (as daughter of the king & Queen)
20 November 1947 – 6 February 1952: Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, Countess of Merioneth & Baroness Greenwich (as the wife of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh).
Since 6 February 1952: Her Majesty The Queen
Her forenames are: Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. She was named Elizabeth after her mother; Alexandra after her paternal great-grandmother, who had died six months earlier; & Mary after her paternal grandmother.
Elizabeth was called "Lilibet" by her close family, based on what she called herself at first.
Upon Elizabeth's accession to the throne, she was asked by her Private Secretary what her regnal name would be, to which she responded, "My own, of course—what else?". Several monarchs have used a name different to their first name. For example Queen Victoria opted for Victoria rather than Alexandrina. Her successor Albert Edward chose king Edward VII; Prince Albert chose George VI from his forenames (Albert Frederick Arthur George)
She was born at 02:40 (GMT) on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, King George V (reigned. 1910-1936).
Her father, Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), was the second son of King George V & Queen Mary.
Her mother, the Duchess of York (née Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, & later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother), was the youngest daughter of Scottish aristocrat Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.
Elizabeth's only sibling, Princess Margaret, was born in 1930. The two princesses were educated at home under the supervision of their mother & their governess, Marion Crawford. Lessons concentrated on history, language, literature, & music.
Winston Churchill described Elizabeth when she was two as "a character. She has an air of authority & reflectiveness astonishing in an infant."
If her parents had had a later son, he would have been heir apparent & above her in the line of succession, which was determined by male-preference primogeniture at the time.
Did you know? Nicholas II of Russia (1868-1918) is the 1st cousin 2 times removed of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-). Their common ancestor is King Christian IX of Denmark (1818-1906). Nicholas II or Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov (1868 – 1918), was the last Emperor of Russia.
Elizabeth received private tuition in constitutional history from Henry Marten, Vice-Provost of Eton College, & learned French from a succession of native-speaking governesses. Her Majesty is fluent in French.
In 1939, Elizabeth's parents toured Canada & the United States. As in 1927, when they had toured Australia & New Zealand, Elizabeth remained in Britain, since her father thought her too young to undertake public tours. She "looked tearful" as her parents departed. They corresponded regularly, & she & her parents made the FIRST royal transatlantic telephone call on 18 May.
In September 1939, Britain entered the Second World War. Lord Hailsham suggested that Princesses Elizabeth & Margaret should be evacuated to Canada to avoid the aerial bombings of London by the Luftwaffe. This was rejected by their mother, who declared, "The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave." From February to May 1940, they lived at Royal Lodge, Windsor, until moving to Windsor Castle, where they lived for most of the next five years. At Windsor, the princesses staged pantomimes at Christmas in aid of the Queen's Wool Fund, which bought yarn to knit into military garments.
In 1940, the 14-year-old Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast during the BBC's Children's Hour, addressing other children who had been evacuated from the cities. She stated: "We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers, & airmen, & we are trying, too, to bear our own share of the danger & sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well."
Elizabeth undertook her first solo public appearance on a visit to the Grenadier Guards in 1943, of which she had been appointed colonel the previous year.
In February 1945, she was appointed as an honorary second subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service with the service number of 230873. She trained as a driver & mechanic & was given the rank of honorary junior commander (female equivalent of captain at the time) five months later.
At the end of the war in Europe, on Victory in Europe Day, Elizabeth & Margaret mingled incognito with the celebrating crowds in the streets of London. Elizabeth later said in a rare interview, "We asked my parents if we could go out & see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognised ... I remember lines of unknown people linking arms & walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness & relief."
Princess Elizabeth went on her first overseas tour in 1947, accompanying her parents through southern Africa. During the tour, in a broadcast to the British Commonwealth on her 21st birthday, she made the following pledge: "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service & the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."
Elizabeth fell in love with Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, an officer in the Royal Navy. She was 21 when their engagement was officially announced on 9 July 1947.
Before the marriage, Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles, officially converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism, & adopted the style Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, taking the surname of his mother's British family. Shortly before the wedding, he was created Duke of Edinburgh and granted the style His Royal Highness. Elizabeth and Philip were married on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. They received 2,500 wedding gifts from around the world.
Elizabeth required ration coupons to buy the material for her gown (which was designed by Norman Hartnell) because Britain had not yet completely recovered from the devastation of the war.
Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Prince Charles, on 14 November 1948. One month earlier, the King had issued letters patent allowing her children to use the style & title of a royal prince or princess, to which they otherwise would not have been entitled as their father was no longer a royal prince.
A second child, Princess Anne, was born in August 1950.
Following their wedding, the couple leased Windlesham Moor, near Windsor Castle, until July 1949, when they took up residence at Clarence House in London.
At various times between 1949 & 1951, the Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in the British Crown Colony of Malta as a serving Royal Navy officer. He & Elizabeth lived intermittently in Malta for several months at a time in the hamlet of Gwardamanġa, at Villa Guardamangia, the rented home of Philip's uncle, Lord Mountbatten. Their two children remained in Britain.
In early 1952, Elizabeth & Philip set out for a tour of Australia & New Zealand by way of Kenya. On 6 February 1952, they had just returned to their Kenyan home, Sagana Lodge, after a night spent at Treetops Hotel, when word arrived of the death of George VI & Elizabeth's consequent accession to the throne with immediate effect. Philip broke the news to the new queen.
With Elizabeth's accession, it seemed probable that the royal house would bear the Duke of Edinburgh's name, in line with the custom of a wife taking her husband's surname on marriage. Lord Mountbatten advocated the name House of Mountbatten. Philip suggested House of Edinburgh, after his ducal title. The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, & Elizabeth's grandmother, Queen Mary, favoured the retention of the House of Windsor, so Elizabeth issued a declaration on 9 April 1952 that Windsor would continue to be the name of the royal house. The Duke complained, "I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children."
In 1960, the surname Mountbatten-Windsor was adopted for Philip & Elizabeth's male-line descendants who do not carry royal titles.
The Coronation of Elizabeth II took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey in London. The coronation was held more than one year later because of the tradition of allowing an appropriate length of time to pass after a monarch dies. It also gave the planning committees adequate time to make preparations for the ceremony.
Elizabeth took an oath, was anointed with holy oil, was invested with robes & regalia, & was crowned queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, & Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
Along a route lined with sailors, soldiers, & airmen & women from across the British Empire & Commonwealth, guests & officials passed in a procession before about three million spectators gathered in the streets of London, some having camped overnight in their spot to ensure a view of the monarch, & others having access to specially built stands & scaffolding along the route.
For those not present to witness the event, more than 200 microphones were stationed along the path & in Westminster Abbey, with 750 commentators broadcasting descriptions in 39 languages; more than twenty million viewers around the world watched the coverage.
For more about the coronation visit here.
In 1953, the Queen & Duke of Edinburgh embarked on a seven-month round-the-world tour, visiting 13 countries & covering more than 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometres) by land, sea & air. The Queen became the FIRST reigning monarch of Australia & New Zealand to visit those nations. Throughout her reign, the Queen has made hundreds of state visits to other countries & tours of the Commonwealth; she is the most widely travelled head of state.
The Queen does not require a British passport for travelling overseas, as all British passports are issued in her name.
In 1957, Elizabeth made a state visit to the United States, where she addressed the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of the Commonwealth. On the same tour, she opened the 23rd Canadian Parliament, becoming the FIRST monarch of Canada to open a parliamentary session.
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan wrote, "The Queen has been absolutely determined all through ... She is impatient of the attitude towards her to treat her as ... a film star ... She has indeed 'the heart and stomach of a man' ... She loves her duty and means to be a Queen."
Elizabeth gave birth to her third child, Prince Andrew, on 19 February 1960, which was the first birth to a reigning British monarch since 1857. Her fourth child, Prince Edward, was born on 10 March 1964.
The Queen toured Yugoslavia in October 1972, becoming the FIRST British monarch to visit a communist country. She was received at the airport by President Josip Broz Tito, & a crowd of thousands greeted her in Belgrade.
In 1977, Elizabeth marked the Silver Jubilee of her accession. Parties & events took place throughout the Commonwealth, many coinciding with her associated national & Commonwealth tours. The Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 1977 marked the 25th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom & other Commonwealth realms.
During the 1981 Trooping the Colour ceremony, six shots were fired at the Queen from close range as she rode down The Mall, London, on her horse, Burmese. Police later discovered the shots were blanks. The 17-year-old assailant, Marcus Sarjeant, was sentenced to five years in prison & released after three. The Queen's composure & skill in controlling her mount were widely praised.
The Queen paid a six-day state visit to China in 1986, becoming the FIRST British monarch to visit the country. The tour included the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, & the Terracotta Warriors.
In the wake of coalition victory in the Gulf War, the Queen became the FIRST British monarch to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress in May 1991.
The Ruby Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 1992 marked the 40th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom & other Commonwealth realms. Contrary to her Silver Jubilee in 1977, the Ruby Jubilee was a low-profile event.
The Queen became the FIRST reigning British monarch to set foot on Russian soil in October 1994. During the four-day visit, which is considered to be one of the most important foreign trips of the Queen's reign, she & Philip attended events in Moscow & St. Petersburg.
In November 1997, the Queen & her husband held a reception at Banqueting House to mark their golden wedding anniversary. She made a speech & praised Philip for his role as a consort, referring to him as "my strength & stay".
The Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II was held in 2002 marking the 50th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. Despite the deaths of her sister, Princess Margaret, & mother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, in February & March 2002 respectively, the jubilee was marked with large-scale & popular events throughout London & the Commonwealth realms.
She became the FIRST British monarch to celebrate a diamond wedding anniversary in November 2007.
At the Church of Ireland St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh on 20 March 2008, the Queen attended the FIRST Maundy service held outside England & Wales.
Elizabeth addressed the UN General Assembly for a second time in 2010, again in her capacity as Queen of all Commonwealth realms & Head of the Commonwealth. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, introduced her as "an anchor for our age". During her visit to New York, which followed a tour of Canada, she officially opened a memorial garden for British victims of the September 11 attacks.
The Queen's 11-day visit to Australia in October 2011 was her 16th visit to the country since 1954.
By invitation of the Irish President, Mary McAleese, she made the FIRST state visit to the Republic of Ireland by a British monarch in May 2011.
The year 2012 marked the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II being the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. The only Diamond Jubilee celebration for any of her predecessors was in 1897, for Queen Victoria.
In December 2012, the Queen became the first British sovereign to attend a peacetime Cabinet meeting since George III in 1781.
The Queen, who opened the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, also opened the 2012 Summer Olympics & Paralympics in London, making her the first head of state to open two Olympic Games in two countries.
For the London Olympics, she played herself in a short film as part of the opening ceremony, alongside Daniel Craig as James Bond. On 4 April 2013, she received an honorary BAFTA for her patronage of the film industry & was called "the most memorable Bond girl yet" at the award ceremony.
The Queen surpassed her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, to become the LONGEST-LIVED British monarch on 21 December 2007, & the LONGEST-REIGNING British monarch & LONGEST-REIGNING queen regnant & female head of state in the world on 9 September 2015.
She became the OLDEST current monarch after King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died on 23 January 2015.
She later became the LONGEST-REIGNING current monarch and the LONGEST-SERVING current head of state following the death of King Bhumibol of Thailand on 13 October 2016, & the OLDEST current head of state on the resignation of Robert Mugabe on 21 November 2017.
On 6 February 2017, she became the FIRST British monarch to commemorate a Sapphire Jubilee (marking sixty-five years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign), & on 20 November, she was the FIRST British monarch to celebrate a platinum wedding anniversary.
Prince Philip died on 9 April 2021, after 73 years of marriage, making Elizabeth the first British monarch to reign as a widow or widower since Queen Victoria.
Elizabeth has a deep sense of religious & civic duty, & takes her Coronation Oath seriously. Aside from her official religious role as Supreme Governor of the established Church of England, she worships with that church & also the national Church of Scotland.
The Queen has demonstrated support for inter-faith relations & has met with leaders of other churches & religions, including five popes: Pius XII, John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI & Francis.
A personal note about her faith often features in her annual Christmas Message broadcast to the Commonwealth. In 2000, she said: To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ & my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ's words & example.
The Queen is patron of more than 600 organisations & charities. The Charities Aid Foundation estimated that Elizabeth has helped raise over £1.4 billion for her patronages during her reign.
Her main leisure interests include equestrianism & dogs, especially her Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Her lifelong love of corgis began in 1933 with Dookie, the first corgi owned by her family.
The Queen has 8 grandchildren; Prince William (b.1982); Prince Harry (b.1984); Peter Phillips (b.1977); Zara Tindall (née Phillips, b.1981); Princess Beatrice (b.1988); Princess Eugenie (b.1990); Lady Louise Windsor (b.2003); James, & Viscount Severn (b.2007).
And 12 great-grandchildren; Prince George of Cambridge (b.2013); Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (b.2015); Prince Louis of Cambridge (b.2018); Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor (b.2019); Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windbsor (b.2021); Savannah Phillips (b.2010); Isla Phillips (b.2012); Mia Tindall (b.2014); Lena Tindall (2018); Lucas Tindall (b.2021); August (b.2021) & Sienna Elizabeth (b.2021).
The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated in 2022 in the United Kingdom & the Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. This is the FIRST time any British monarch has celebrated a platinum jubilee.