The Royal Family announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II, United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch, on Thursday, September 8, 2022.
Queen Elizabeth II lived her life in the spotlight. We look back at her reign, from baby to heir to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born on 21 April 1926, in a house off Berkeley Square in London. She was the first child of Albert, Duke of York – the second son of George V – and his wife, the former Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
In her early years, the throne was not her destiny.
However, she was said to have shown a sense of responsibility from a very young age.
Both Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret Rose, who was born in 1930, were educated at home.
Following the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936, Elizabeth’s father became King George VI and she became heir.
During World War Two, Elizabeth and her sister Margaret were evacuated to Windsor. This picture shows them broadcasting to the nation for Children’s Hour on the BBC.
The young princess briefly joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) towards the end of the war, learning to drive and service a lorry.
In 1947 she married a distant cousin, Philip Mountbatten, who became Duke of Edinburgh.Their first child, Charles (pictured), was born in 1948, followed by a sister, Anne, who arrived in 1950
Their first child, Charles (pictured), was born in 1948, followed by a sister, Anne, who arrived in 1950.
Elizabeth remained very close to her mother throughout her life. They are pictured here in 1951 attending a wedding.
In January 1952, Elizabeth and Philip set off on an overseas tour in place of her father, who had been ill. The King died in his sleep just days later.
Elizabeth returned home immediately. The new Queen was just 25 years old.
First came the King’s funeral. Here Queen Mary, his mother, watches as the body of George VI is brought to Westminster Hall, London, for the lying-in-state. Queen Elizabeth stands behind her grandmother, and the Queen Mother is on the left.
Then, in June 1953, Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey.
Following the coronation, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh made an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony and waved to the cheering crowds.
Although Britain was still enduring post-war austerity, some commentators described the coronation as the dawn of a new Elizabethan age. Here, Queen Elizabeth II ascends the Grand Staircase at the Opera in Paris, France.
In 1957, the Queen made the first of many televised Christmas Day broadcasts to the nation.
British society and attitudes to the monarchy were changing and the term “the Monarchy” was gradually replaced by “the Royal Family”. The Queen is the object of the neighbours’ gaze while visiting the home of Mr and Mrs Eddie Hammond at Crawley New Town, Sussex in 1958.
Between official engagements, Elizabeth spent time with her family – here with her daughter Princess Anne at Frogmore, Windsor Castle.
In 1966, at Wembley, the Queen presented the Jules Rimet Trophy to England captain Bobby Moore after he led his team to a 4-2 World Cup final victory over West Germany.
On 29 October 1966, the Queen visited the Welsh village of Aberfan, eight days after a coal tip landslide engulfed Pantglas Junior School killing 144 people, 116 of them children. The Queen was visibly moved and it remains one of the most emotive moments of her reign.
In 1969, the documentary Royal Family was first broadcast. It gave audiences an unprecedented view of a year in the private and public life of the Queen and her family.
The Queen formally invested her son Prince Charles with the Coronet of the Prince of Wales during a ceremony at Caernarfon Castle. He took on the title when he was nine, but the Queen insisted the ceremony should wait until he fully understood its significance.
In 1972 the Queen was pictured on board HMY Britannia as part of series of photographs taken for use during her Silver Wedding Celebrations.
Throughout her reign the Queen has been pictured with corgis at her side. The Royal Family’s ties with the breed began when the future George VI bought a corgi called Dookie for his daughters in 1933.
In 1977 the country celebrated the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, marking 25 years on the throne. The Queen was met by enthusiastic crowds as she toured the country.
Her Majesty visited 36 counties over 10 weeks – including Avon, where she observed people making the most of the summer weather. She also travelled 56,000 miles around the world in celebration.
The Queen and the duke were on hand to wave as Concorde flew low past by the Royal Yacht Britannia as the royal couple neared Barbados.
Year by year, the Queen’s public duties continued. Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh received a New Zealand Maori welcome at the opening of the Royal New Zealand Polynesian Festival.
,In August 1979, Prince Philip’s uncle and a cousin of the Queen, Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, was killed by an IRA bomb while on his boat in Ireland. As well as being a close family member, Lord Mountbatten had held many senior military positions, and his funeral was held in Westminster Abbey.
In 1981, Elizabeth’s eldest son Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. Charles and Diana had two sons, William and Harry, before divorcing. Diana died in a car accident in Paris in 1997.
During her Christmas speech, the Queen described 1992 as her “annus horribilis”, expressing sorrow at a year which saw the break-up of three of her children’s marriages and a fire at Windsor Castle.
Public opinion was against the government paying for repairs to the castle. The monarchy was on the defensive, and Buckingham Palace was opened to visitors in order to raise the funds. The Queen fired the last shot on a standard SA80 rifle with the Army Rifle Association at Bisley.
After the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997, the Queen faced criticism for not appearing in public. Eventually she viewed tributes outside Buckingham Palace and made a live broadcast to the nation.
The Queen joined Mrs Susan McCarron for tea in her home in the Castlemilk area of Glasgow, as the Royal Family experimented with a more intimate, informal approach to meeting the public.
In 2000, the Queen Mother celebrated her 100th birthday – here with her daughters Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth.
In 2002, the Queen faced the deaths of her sister, Princess Margaret, and her mother, the Queen Mother, pictured here, just seven weeks apart.
The Queen enjoyed a swell of support that summer as she celebrated her Golden Jubilee. Huge numbers turned out for a parade and a million people crowded into The Mall on the evening of the Jubilee on 4 June.
In 2005, Queen Elizabeth watched her eldest son get married for a second time. Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles wed in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall, followed by a blessing at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Elizabeth, Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall share a moment at the Braemar Highland Games in Aberdeenshire.
In 2007 the Queen was pictured sheltering from the rain during the opening of the Lawn Tennis Association’s new headquarters in Roehampton.
The Queen quoted Groucho Marx’s dictum on ageing in a speech to celebrate her official 80th birthday saying: “Anyone can get old; all you have to do is to live long enough”.
One of the happiest events in her later years was the wedding of her grandson Prince William to Catherine Middleton in 2011. Here Prince William and his new bride bow to the Queen.
The Queen nearly lost her hat on arrival at a windy RAF Valley in Anglesey where she and Prince Philip were visiting Prince William, who was posted to the base at the time.
A visit to Leicester marked the start of her 60th anniversary Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK in 2012.
This was closely followed by an appearance in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, in a filmed sequence alongside another British icon, James Bond, played by actor Daniel Craig.
Sixty years after enjoying a first Royal Ascot winner as an owner, the Queen’s horse Estimate won the 207th Gold Cup, bringing great joy to both herself and her racing manager John Warren.
At 17:30 BST on 9 September 2015, Elizabeth had reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and approximately 30 minutes – surpassing the reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. She spent the day in Scotland opening a new railway.
The Queen was joined by other members of the Royal Family for her official birthday celebrations in June 2016. She had turned 90 earlier that year.
The Queen continued with her public duties, often alone after the retirement of the Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen watched her horse Sparkler compete at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2018.
There was joy as her family grew – here she is pictured with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, their son Archie and the duchess’s mother Doria Ragland. But there were also continued strains on the family – including Prince Andrew’s friendship with US financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and Prince Harry’s growing disillusionment with life in the Royal Family.
Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, died on 9 April 2021, aged 99 and after more than six decades at her side. The image of the Queen by herself at the funeral during the Covid pandemic resonated with the tens of thousands of families who had to honour loved ones in a similar fashion.
The Queen is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.