On September 8th, there has been a year since Queen Elizabeth passed away. More than the mother of Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward, and the wife of Prince Philip, she was a remarkable woman to the British Royalty. Get to know her better!
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on April 21st, 1926, in London, England. Elizabeth was the elder daughter of Prince Albert, Duke of York, and his wife Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. As a child of the younger son of King George V, young Elizabeth had little prospect of acceding to the throne. That changed when her uncle, King Edward VIII (afterward Duke of Windsor) abdicated in her father’s favor on December 11, 1936, at which time her father became King George VI, and she became his presumptive.
The princess’s education was supervised by her mother, who entrusted her daughters to a governess, Marion Crawford. Early, in 1947, Princess Elizabeth went with the King and Queen to South Africa. When she returned, there was an announcement of her betrothal to her distant cousin Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten of the Royal Navy, formerly Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark.
The marriage happened on November 20th, 1947, in Westminster Abbey. Before the wedding, her father conferred upon the groom the titles of Duke of Edinburgh and Baron Greenwich. They took residence in Clarence House, in London, and they had Prince Charles on November 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace.
Later, in the summer of 1951, the King’s health went into a serious decline, and Princess Elizabeth represented him at the Trooping the Colour, and on various other state occasions. Shortly after, on February 6, 1952, the King died and Elizabeth became queen. Now as the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband return to England.
The first three months of her reign were passed in comparative seclusion. But in the summer, after she had moved from Clarence House to Buckingham Palace, she undertook the routine duties of the sovereign and carried out her first state opening of Parliament in November 1952. She was crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 2nd, 1953.
Key moments that were part of Queen Elizabeth’s II reign:
- First State Visit to West Germany – 1965
Her visit marked the 20-year anniversary of the end of World War 2, helping to symbolize the reconciliation between the countries.
- Mining disaster in Wales – 1966
On October 21st, 1966, an avalanche of mud, water, and debris from a coal mine buried an elementary school in the South Wales village of Aberfan, killing 116 children and 28 adults. Though Prince Philip arrived in Aberfan a day after the disaster, the Queen herself delayed her visit for over a week, fearing her presence would distract from rescue and recovery efforts.
- First “Walkabout” – 1970
During a royal tour of Australia and New Zealand with Philip and Princess Anne, in 1970, Elizabeth bucked centuries of royal tradition when she took a casual stroll to greet crowds of people in person, rather than wave to them from a protected distance.
- Silver Jubilee – 1977
On June 7, Elizabeth and Philip rode in the Gold State Coach from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The queen reaffirmed her earlier promise to devote her life to service while donning a bright pink dress and bonnet decorated with 25 fabric bells.
She said: “Although that commitment was made in my salad days when I was green in judgment, I do not regret nor recant word of it”.
- The Wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer – 1981
On July 29th, 1981 Prince Charles, Elizabeth’s eldest son, wed Lady Diana Spencer in St. Paul’s Cathedral in front of an estimated 750 million viewers in 74 nations.
- Annus Horribilis – 1992
During the “Annus horribilis”, or a horrible year, Charles and Diana decided to divorce, Anne divorced her husband, Mark Phillips, and Prince Andrew, Elizabeth’s second son, also separated from his wife, Sara Ferguson.
Late that year, Windsor Castle experienced a fire that resulted in the destruction of almost 100 rooms. “1992 has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’ or ‘horrific year’”, said Queen Elizabeth in her speech during the 40th anniversary of her accession.
- Response to Diana’s death – 1997
After Charles and Diana’s divorce, and after the car accident that caused her death, there was an increase in public criticism of the royal family. The Queen first refused to speak, but she traveled back to London and gave a rare televised speech to a country reeling from the loss of the People’s Princess.
- Golden Jubilee – 2002
When Princess Margaret, the queen’s younger sister, and their mother, Queen Elizabeth I, also known as the Queen Mother, passed away within a few weeks of one another, the celebration of the Queen’s 50th anniversary on the throne was overshadowed. While in her reign, Elizabeth traveled more than 40,000 miles that year as the first British monarch to mark a Golden Jubilee since Queen Victoria.
- Birth of Prince George – 2013
The first child of Prince William and the former Kate Middleton, who wed in 2011, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, became the queen’s new great-grandson in July 2013. George is viewed as a likely candidate to become king at some point in his life. He is the second in the line of succession, only after his father.
- Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – 2018
This wedding was the most emblematic event of the modernizing monarchy during Elizabeth’s reign. This is because Meghan Markle was a divorced, multiracial, American actress.
The couple’s relationship with the British media and the royal family grew more contentious after the marriage, despite the queen apparently giving her rapid blessing to the union.
- Prince Philip’s death – 2021
Elizabeth’s 73-year marriage to Prince Philip ended on April 9, 2021, when he passed away at the age of 99. Their relationship was the longest romance in British royal history and started soon before the Second World War, when Elizabeth, then Princess, was visiting the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
- Platinum Jubilee – 2022
England started a year-long commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years as monarch in February 2022. A military parade honoring the 96-year-old king, whose birthday was on April 21st, was held on June 2nd and featured many soldiers, musicians, horses, and The Queen’s favorite dog breed: corgis.
- Queen’s death – 2022
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, officially Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and other realms and territories, passed away on September 8th, 2022 in her summer house, the Balmoral Castle. The queen leaves as a legacy, a modernized monarchy, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who will succeed her. They will need effort to reign as majestic as she did.
Wow, she had quite a life, right?
The article above was edited by Júlia Pupo Mucha Fagá
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