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Queen Elizabeth II Biography II The Life of Queen ElizabethQueen Elizabeth II Biography II The Life of Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II Biography II The Life of Queen Elizabeth

In 1952, Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne, assuming the roles of Head of State, Head of the Commonwealth, and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Over a span of more than 70 years, she held the distinction of being the longest-serving British monarch, overseeing a period of constant transformation within the Royal Family, Great Britain, and the Commonwealth.

Queen Elizabeth II Biography II The Life of Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth II Biography II The Life of Queen Elizabeth /credit-Ranald Mackechnie/Courtesy of Buckingham Palace

Elizabeth, the eldest child of Prince Albert, the Duke of York (later known as George VI), and his wife Elizabeth (later referred to as the Queen Mother), grew up in a remarkable family. Prince Albert initially stood as second in line to the throne until his older brother Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, unexpectedly thrusting him into the position of King. Despite the unexpected circumstances, King George VI embraced his new role, but unfortunately passed away in early 1952.

Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret, received their education at home. However, during the tumultuous times of the Second World War, they were evacuated to Balmoral and later sought refuge in Windsor Castle. Towards the conclusion of the war in 1945, Elizabeth actively participated in the Women’s Royal Auxiliary Territorial Service, where she served as a driver and mechanic. As the war came to an end, she gradually embraced her responsibilities in public service and embarked on her inaugural international journey to South Africa in 1947.

Shortly before her 21st birthday, she 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 Elizabeth II Biography II The Life of Queen Elizabeth /credit-Ranald Mackechnie/Courtesy of Buckingham Palace
Queen Elizabeth II Biography II The Life of Queen Elizabeth /credit-Ranald Mackechnie/Courtesy of Buckingham Palace

In 1947, Queen Elizabeth married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in a splendid ceremony held at Westminster. Despite initial opposition due to his foreign background, his service in the Royal Navy helped overcome objections. Their enduring marriage has spanned over 70 years, serving as a source of mutual strength, despite Prince Philip occasionally making colorful remarks about foreigners. In 1948, Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, the future Prince Charles, and they went on to have a total of four children (Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward).

Tragedy struck in 1952 when her father, George VI, passed away, leading to Queen Elizabeth’s enthusiastic coronation. The event garnered record-breaking television viewership worldwide and symbolized a new era for the monarchy and the British Commonwealth. To coincide with her coronation, news of Edmund Hillary’s conquest of Mount Everest was delayed, marking a symbolic end to post-war austerity.

The 1950s could be described as a golden age for Queen Elizabeth. The Royal family still commanded high levels of respect and deference, and the young Elizabeth embodied the essence of a fairy-tale Princess. However, the following decades witnessed widespread social change, leading to a decline in traditional attitudes toward the monarchy. The advent of television and intense media scrutiny resulted in numerous unfavorable headlines, as her children became embroiled in marital difficulties and related scandals.

Formal portrait, 1959
Formal portrait, 1959 / credit – Wikipedia

Nonetheless, there were still moments of triumph for the Royal Family, including the celebrated Silver Jubilee in 1977 and the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana in 1981. By the 1990s, the media’s focus had shifted to Princess Diana, and as her marriage unraveled, the Queen increasingly appeared out of touch. In 1992, she famously referred to the year as her “annus horribilis,” as media coverage revolved around Charles and Diana’s marital breakdown, a fire at Windsor, and other criticisms of the Royal family.

Tragedy struck again in 1996 with the untimely death of Princess Diana in a car accident. Initially, the Queen’s seemingly distant response and refusal to lower the flag to half-mast caused public dismay. However, when the Queen later expressed admiration for Princess Diana, hostilities dissipated. Nevertheless, the relationship between Princess Diana and the Queen remained somewhat cool.

The Queen placed great emphasis on her role in uniting the Commonwealth, a challenging task in the post-war era as decolonization gave rise to various challenges. Despite the complexities, she consistently received widespread acclaim, with many recognizing her as a unifying presence during Commonwealth meetings. In a speech delivered at the United Nations in 2010, she highlighted the importance of global collaboration, stating, “In tomorrow’s world, we must all work together as hard as ever, if we’re truly to be United Nations.”

credit – Wikipedia

Following the challenges of the 1990s, the 2000s marked a resurgence in Queen Elizabeth’s popularity as the Royal Family moved past their difficulties and embraced moments of celebration. If 1992 was her “annus horribilis,” then 2012 could be considered her “annus mirabilis.” In April of that year, Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton captured widespread public enthusiasm. Later in the summer, despite inclement weather, her Golden Jubilee was joyously celebrated. Finally, in July 2012, she played a significant role in the highly successful opening ceremony of the London Olympics, garnering global acclaim.

Throughout her tenure as Head of State, Queen Elizabeth has remained committed to refraining from interfering in political matters and providing a moderating influence on the nation. She once remarked, “We are a moderate, pragmatic people, more comfortable with practice than theory” (30 April 2002).

As a devout Christian, she frequently references her religious beliefs in her annual Christmas addresses. However, in her capacity as the Head of the Church of England, she has emphasized her commitment to safeguarding the rights of all faiths. During a speech at Lambeth Palace on 15 February 2012, she highlighted, “The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated. Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.”

Despite reaching the age of 90, Queen Elizabeth remained in relatively good health and continued to fulfill her duties. However, on 8 September 2022, she passed away, resulting in an outpouring of love and well-wishes for her remarkable reign and a life dedicated to duty and service. Her funeral, held at Westminster Abbey on 19 September, drew heads of state from around the world. It marked the first state funeral since Winston Churchill, and large crowds gathered to witness her final journey to Windsor Castle, where she was laid to rest beside her husband, Prince Philip.

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One thought on “Queen Elizabeth II Biography II The Life of Queen Elizabeth”
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