Her Majesty, The Queen Elizabeth II
Following the sad news last week of the death of Her Majesty The Queen. It is only right that we devote this month’s article to her.
Her Majesty The Queen was in fact the Queen that was not born to be Queen. It was only during her life that her destiny to become the longest serving monarch changed.
Her Majesty The Queen was born on the 21st April 1926 in Bruton Street, London. She was born as the eldest daughter to Prince Albert (later King George VI) and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She was the 3rd in line to the throne behind her father and Uncle, Prince Edward (King Edward VIII). At her birth she was named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, with the official title, Princess Elizabeth of York. Her family and later her husband Prince Philip called her Lilibet, based on how she referred to herself in her younger life.
It is well documented that she referred to her Grandad, King George V as Grandpa England. At the age of 4, she was joined into the family by her sister, Princess Margaret.
Change in destiny
It was in 1936 when destiny changed for the young Princess, when her beloved Grandpa England passed away. Her uncle, ascended to the throne, promoting Elizabeth to the 2nd in line to the throne. It was late 1936 when her uncle, King Edward VIII abdicated his throne, so that he could marry divorced socialite Wallace Simpson.
With his abdication, the throne passed over to the young Princess father, King George VI and therefore making Elizabeth Heir to the throne. Of course, at that time, should her parents go on to have a son, the young Princess would have been demoted down the line of succession, as we now know this did not happen and Her Royal Highness (As she was then) would become the Queen.
The Second World War
Elizabeth was thirteen at the commencement of the second World War. It was thought at the time by Lord Hailsham, that she and Margaret should be evacuated to Canada to avoid the bombings. Her mother however stated;
‘The children won’t go without me.
I won’t leave without the King.
And the King will never leave.’
It was at this point that she was sent to Windsor Castle for the duration of the war, putting on pantomimes with her sister in aid of the Queen’s Wool Fund, which brought yarn to make military garments.
At the age of fourteen, she addressed the nation on BBC’s Children’s Hour addressing other children that had been evacuated to keep them safe from the bombings.
In February 1945, Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service training as a driver and a mechanic, she was made honorary Junior Commander (equivalent at the time to Captain) in July 1945.
It was VE Day when Elizabeth and her sister Margaret mingled incognito with the crowds celebrating the end of the war in Europe with the crowds in the street. Later in an interview she recalled:
‘We asked my parents if we could go out and see for ourselves.
I remember we were terrified of being recognised …
I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.’
It was in 1947 that Princess Elizabeth went on her first overseas tour, this tour was to South Africa with her parents. It was here on her 21st birthday, that she made her pledge that has long been famous, and on the event of her 25th Jubilee she confirmed that she didn’t regret or take back one word of it’. The pledge that she made in South Africa was:
‘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.’
Prince Philip and Elizabeth
In 1939, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Elizabeth toured the Royal Navel College, Dartmouth. This was the time that Princess Elizabeth (as she was then) met Philip, at this point of her life she was thirteen. Elizabeth fell in love with Philip, and they remained in contact through letters.
HM The Queen and Prince Philip 3rd cousins through Queen Victoria and 2nd cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark.
Once Elizabeth was twenty-one. the announcement of the engagement of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip was made on 10th July 1947.
The marriage between the pair took place on 20th November 1947, the wedding ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey and was broadcast to over 200 million listeners on BBC Radio.
The happy couple moved into Clarence House; the marriage would become the longest marriage of any British Monarch at over 73 years at the time of Prince Philip’s death last year. (You can read our review of his life here).
Children of HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
During the course of their marriage the happy couple had 4 children:
Prince Charles (b: 14th November 1948), Now King Charles III,
Princess Anne (b: 15th August 1950), Princess Royal,
Prince Andrew (b: 19th February 1960), Duke of York,
Prince Edward (b: 10th March 1964), Earl of Wessex.
The Reign and Times of Her Majesty
At the end of January 1952, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip commenced a tour of the commonwealth, leaving a King in ill-health at home. In Kenya, The Royal couple were staying in a treehouse on the 5th February 1952. The following morning on the 6th February, the news had broken of the death of Elizabeth’s father King George VI. It was Prince Philip who broke the sad news to his wife. The couple came down from the treehouse with new roles, Elizabeth was now Queen. The couple returned immediately to the UK.
She took her oath of accession on the 8th February 1952.
Her Majesty kept her family name, Windsor when she married and became Queen, it was during her early reign that she decreed that all male heirs would carry the name ‘Mountbatten-Windsor.’
Throughout her reign the Queen saw many pioneering moments, her coronation was one of these such moments, as it was the first coronation in history to be televised. Her coronation took place on 2nd June 1953, at Westminster Abbey.
From the 1st Christmas as Queen, she made her Christmas message broadcast, a tradition for the Monarch since 1937, Her Majesty was the first to make the message a televised event.
Into the 60s we go, with Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man in space on the 12th April 1961, the queen 8 years later like a lot of people around watched on television as Neil Armstrong became the 1st man to step on the lunar service. This event took place on July 20th, 1969.
While back down to events that took place on Earth during the 1960s, Her Majesty had the pleasure of being at Wembley Stadium July 30th, 1966, where she proudly handed the Jules Rimet Trophy (Football World Cup) to England Captain Booby Moore, having witnessed England beat West Germany by 4 goals to 2.
The following year, Her Majesty launched the Cunard cruise liner that donned her name ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ or QE2.
As part of the pioneering Monarch that she was along with Prince Philip, in 1969 she agreed to a documentary being made entitled ‘The Royal Family’, a joint project between BBC and ITV, with Prince Philip chairing a committee that chose the final footage that could be used. Footage caught an informal visit to the UK by President Nixon of America, he was received by The Queen, Princes Philip and Charles and Princess Anne.
In the 70s Her Majesty made 3 visits to Australia:
In 1970 to mark the 200 anniversary of James Cook discovering Australia,
In 1973 where she opened the now iconic Sydney Opera House, and in
1974 where Her Majesty opened the Australian Parliament in Canberra.
It was in 1971 that the country said goodbye to shillings and pence, as the UK went into a decimal currency.
In 1972 Her Majesty and Prince Philip celebrated their silver Wedding anniversary; this event was celebrated up and down the country in the guide of street parties. The royal couple took a car ride through the streets of London as the public lined the streets and cheered for them as they waved back.
There was a period of immense joy for Her Majesty and her family in 1973 as Princess Anne married Mark Phillips, a British Army Cavalry officer. The wedding was watched by over 500 million people worldwide. The marriage split up in 1989 and divorced in 1992.
In 1976, The Queen paid a visit to the White House in America, and attended a state dinner hosted by President Gerald Ford, the dinner was to mark the special relationship the 2 countries have. During the dinner, the Queen danced with the President.
1977 was a big year for Her Majesty the Queen. This was the year that she celebrated her Silver Jubilee. During the year she made visits to thirty-six counties in the UK as well as a commonwealth tour which took in, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, the West Indies, and ended the tour in Canada where Prince Charles joined them.
1977 also, saw the Queen welcome her first grandchild, Peter son of Princess Anne.
The 1970s ended with Her Majesty’s first female Prime Minister being elected following the 1979 General Election.
The 1980s for the Queen started with a trip to become the first British Monarch to travel to the Vatican City to meet the Pope, John Paul II. The trip was seen as an opportunity to forge links between the Church of England and that of the Roman Catholic Church. The Queen returned the invitation 2 years later.
The Queen celebrated with the world in 1981 the wedding that became known as the ‘Fairy-tale wedding’ between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. A wedding that was watched by nearly 750 million people around the world. A national holiday was held across the country along with street parties. Sadly, this wedding did not last, and the couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.
In 1982, the Queen met with President Ronald Reagan, who became the first President to stay the night at Windsor Castle.
During the early hours of July 9th, 1982, an event occurred at Buckingham Palace, which has become famous over the years. The Queen woke up on this morning, to find an intruder in her bedroom. It is reported that she spoke calmly to him, and with the help of a maid was able to raise the alarm.
The royal trip in 1984, became famous as The Queen and Prince Philip were seen briefly sharing a rare kiss before they boarded the plane to New Brunswick and Ontario.
In a decade of firsts for visits for Her Majesty the Queen and for British Monarchs in general, in 1986 she became the first British Monarch to visit China. Whilst it was State visit, it was also a diplomatic as the visit came just after the negotiations between the UK and China about the return of Hong Kong. She visited the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army.
In 1988, The Queen bestowed onto President Ronald Reagan, the highest possible honour Britain can bestow on a foreigner, an honorary knighthood.
The 1980s saw Her Majesty welcome, Prince William, and Zara Phillips (1981), Prince Harry (1984), Princess Beatrice (1988).
In 1990, Her Majesty was at the Commonwealth Heads of State in Zimbabwe, it was the year that Nelson Mandela had been released from prison after 27 years, and although he wasn’t meant to be there, he managed to charm his way into the banquet and Her Majesty ordered that a place be set for him, close to her. In 1995, a year after becoming South Africa President, he invited Her Majesty and Prince Philip to visit, against advice the Royal couple visited black townships, where they were greeted with cheers by both black and white people in a post-apartheid society. This trip coincided with the rainiest season, and the Queen got referred to as the Rain Queen. In 1996, Her majesty was holding a dinner with Nelson Mandela present and the pair in speeches heaped praise on each other.
1992 became known as her ‘annus horribilis’. It was the year that saw her beloved Windsor Castle devastated by fire, on the occasion of her wedding anniversary. The fire was caused by a workman’s spotlight on a curtain. To help pay for the repairs in 1993 she opened Buckingham Palace up to the public.
Other events in her annus horribilis were the separation of the Duke and Duchess of York, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on the 19th, March, followed by the announcement of the separation of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales in December. Both couples divorced in 1996.
In 1991 and 1994 Her Majesty the Queen hosted 2 Presidents of The United States on the Royal yacht. The later event to visit Normandy and pay their respects to those who lost their lives in battle.
It was the early hours of the 31st August 1997 that turned the Royal family world upside down again as the death of the Princess of Wales, Princess Diana had died in a car crash in the Alma Tunnel, Paris. The queen was at Balmoral with Prince Charles and his boys, and they stayed there for several days before returning to London, under much criticism of the public. Prior to this event there was no flag on the flagpole at the Palace if she was not in residence, she did however order the Union to be flown at half mast to show her respect. On her return to London, she carried out a live TV message to the country. As the coffin of Princess Diana passed Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace, Her majesty bowed her head.
The decade ended with a happy note for the family as her youngest child, Prince Edward married Sophie. This was a private event.
Her 6th grandchild was born in 1990, Princess Eugenie.
Into a new millennium we go. And it started with a bang, as on the 4th August 2000, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother turned one hundred. She was the first member of the Royal Family to reach such a milestone. On the morning of the day, the postman arrived at Clarence House with a telegram from Her Majesty, as would arrive for anyone achieving the age of one hundred, the main difference for this special card was that it was handwritten and signed ‘Lillibet.’ The Queen Mother also appeared with the royal family on the Buckingham House balcony.
On the 13th September 2001, Her Majesty paused the Changing of the Guard for a 2-minute silence and had the American anthem played, following the attacks on the 11th. In 2010 she would open the Queen Elizabeth II September 11th Garden in Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan, remembering members of the commonwealth that had does in the attacks.
In February 2002, Her Majesty The Queen’s beloved sister Margaret died at the age of seventy-one from a stroke. Sadly, for the Queen, a month later her beloved mother passed away at the age of 101.
In the same year, Her Majesty celebrated 50 years on the throne, with a tour of seventy cities and towns of the United Kingdom and in a period of 38 days to fifty countries including, Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.
Street parties were held all over the world for Her Majesty’s Jubilee, including in Antarctica, by twenty scientists of the British Antarctic survey at a temperature of minus 20 degrees.
The Queen and Prince Philip took a ride in the gold state coach on the 4th June, from Buckingham Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral for a special service. In New York City, the Empire State Building was lit in purple, in her honour.
During the decade there were 2 additional grandchildren for Her Majesty as Lady Louise Windsor (2003) and James, Viscount Severn (2007) were born.
April 9th, 2005, saw a civil ceremony for Prince Charles as he married Camila Parker-Bowles (now Queen Consort).
On the 22nd December 2007, Her Majesty The Queen surpassed Queen Victoria as the UKs oldest reigning monarch.
Her Penultimate Decade
On the 29th April 2011, Prince William marries Catherine Middleton. The evening before The Queen had created Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, and Baron Carrickfergus, along with his Welsh title, his new titles link him to the 4 nations of the UK. The wedding took place at Westminster Abbey and was watched by 162 million people worldwide.
Continuing her firsts, Her Majesty visited Ireland on a state visit, the first time since its independence in 1921. Her majesty opened her dinner speech using the Gaelic language.
Once again, the country came together to celebrate her diamond jubilee in 2012. There was a flotilla of boats down the river Thames and a concert held outside the Palace. One key moment saw Queen’s guitarist Brian May play the guitar from the roof!
2012 was a busy year for the Queen, as she opened the London Olympics on the 27th July, when she ‘jumped’ out a helicopter to land in the Olympic stadium, alongside 007, James Bond. Of course, her majesty The Queen did not jump out the helicopter, but it was filmed in a way that people believed at the time she had!
In a pioneering legal change, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 received Royal Assent. This means that no longer would a girl be displaced in the line to the succession should a younger brother be born.
2 Great Grandchildren were born, Prince George (2013) and Princess Charlotte (2015).
The 9th of September saw Her Majesty surpass her Great-Great Grandmother, Queen Victoria and become the UK’s longest reigning monarch.
The 2nd of August 2017, was a sad day for her Majesty as her beloved Husband, Prince Philip retired from official royal duties. As the Queen’s consort, Prince Philip had completed 22,219 solo engagements and 5,493 speeches since 1952.
To add to the Royal family again, Prince Louis was born in 2018.
May 2018 saw Her Majesty witness the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, the couple then went on to have 2 children Archie (2019), and Lillibet (2021).
2019 was a sad time for Her Majesty as she had to deal with rumours and accusations against Prince Andrew, following intense reaction to a Newsnight interview with him from the public, Her Majesty in effect suspended him from royal duties.
Her Final Years
In what became known as Megxit, Prince Harry and Meghan announced that they would be stepping back from their roles in public life. They announced that they would become financially independent from the Queen and would cease to represent Her Majesty the Queen. They retain their HRH stylings but are not permitted to use them.
2020 was the year that the whole country ended up shielding, and spending in a rollercoaster of lockdowns. Her Majesty and Prince Philip moved to Windsor Castle as a precaution. Public engagements were cancelled, and HMS Bubble was born at Windsor to keep the couple safe from the risk of Covid. Her Majesty made a public address and as always got her messaging right and on point, and said:
‘Better days will return:
we will be with our friends again;
we will be with our families again;
we will meet again.’
Sadly, on the 9th April 2021, the longest serving royal consort in history passed away. Prince Philip was 2 months shy of his 100th birthday. Her Majesty was at his bedside and described the event as ‘a huge void’ in her life. His funeral took place on the 17th April, at Windsor Castle, where The Queen sat alone in the chapel, due to the Covid restrictions, to say goodbye to her ‘strength and stay’.
Her majesty over the following months, had to cancel several royal visits due to her ‘mobility issues’ and even spent a night in hospital for preliminary investigations.
13th of January 2022, saw Her Majesty distance the monarchy from Prince Andrew, Duke of York by stripping him of his military affiliations and royal patronages, he will also not use his HRH styling. The move meant he was completely removed from Royal life. Further to this he settled out of court the case against him, on the 15th February, thus protecting the Royal family from any reputational damage.
In celebratory mood, the country came together for the occasion of her Majesty’s Platinum jubilee. The country had a 4-day weekend, with street parties, and the lighting of beacons to mark the historic event. The Pageant on the last day of the weekend, ended with a surprise appearance of the Queen, who had been struggling with her mobility issues, on the Buckingham Palace balcony. The most surprising event of the weekend, and the moment that we later found out her family did not know about, was her audience for tea, where she explained she keeps a Marmalade sandwich in her handbag, ‘for later.’
The jubilee weekend was the penultimate event that the country saw the queen, the last appearance for her was 2 days before she died, where she appointed her 15th and last Prime Minister in a meeting unusually held at Balmoral.
Her Majesty the Queen sadly passed away on the afternoon of the 8th September 2022 at the age of 96 years old.
During her life and reign, Her majesty had 4 children, 8 Grandchildren and 12 Great Grandchildren. She had seen 15 Prime ministers, and had met 13 of the 14 Presidents in her reign. She had also met 5 Popes during her reign.
Thank you Ma’am for all your year’s of service
God Save The Queen
The Queen’s Family
King Charles III (1948)
Prince William, Prince of Wales (1981)
Prince George, (2013)
Princess Charlotte, (2015)
Prince Louis (2018)
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (1984)
Prince* Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (2019)
Princess* Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor (2021)
Princess Anne, The Princess Royal (1950)
Peter Phillips (1977)
Savannah Phillips (2010)
Isla Phillips (2012)
Zara Phillips (Tindall) (1981)
Isla Tindall (2012)
Mia Tindall (2014)
Lena Tindall (2018)
Prince Andrew, Duke of York (1960)
Princess Beatrice (1988)
Sienna Mapelli Mozzi (2021)
Princess Eugenie (1990)
August Brooksbank (2021)
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (1964)
Lady Louise Windsor (2003)
James, Viscount Severn (2007)
*to be officially confirmed by Buckingham Palace.
Prime Ministers of her Reign:
Sir Winston Churchill (1952 – 1955),
Anthony Eden (1955 – 1957),
Harold MacMillan (1957 – 1963),
Alec Douglas – Home (1963 – 1964),
Harold Wilson (1964 – 1970) (1974 – 1976),
Edward Heath (1970 – 1974),
James Callaghan (1976 – 1979),
Margaret Thatcher (1979 – 1992),
John Major (1992 – 1997),
Tony Blair (1997 – 2007),
Gordon Brown (2007 – 2010),
David Cameron (2010 – 2016),
Theresa May (2016 – 2019),
Boris Johnson (2019 – 2022),
Liz Truss (2022).
Presidents of her Reign
Harry S. Truman (1952 – 1953),
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953 – 1961),
John F. Kennedy (1961 – 1963),
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963 – 1969),*
Richard Nixon (1969 – 1974),
Gerald Ford (1974 – 1977),
Jimmy Carter (1977 – 1981),
Ronald Reagan (1981 – 1989),
George H. W. Bush (1989 – 1993),
Bill Clinton (1993 – 2001),
George W. Bush (2001 – 2009),
Barack Obama (2009 – 2017),
Donald Trump (2017 – 2021),
Joe Biden (2021 – 2022).
* Only President Her Majesty, The Queen did not meet.
Popes of her Reign
Pope Pius XII (1952 – 1958),**
Pope John XXIII (1958 – 1963),*
Pope Paul VI (1963 – 1978),
Pope John Paul I (1978 – 1978),
Pope John Paul II (1978 – 2005),*
Pope Benedict XVI (2005 – 2013),*
Pope Francis (2013 – 2022).*
*Popes met by Her Majesty, The Queen during her reign
**Her Majesty The Queen met whilst still Princess Elizabeth.