CNN Editorial Research
Here’s a look at the life of Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms.
Birth date: April 21, 1926
Birth place: London, England
Birth name: Elizabeth Alexandra Mary
Father: King George VI
Mother: Queen Elizabeth
Children: Edward, Earl of Wessex (March 10, 1964); Andrew, Duke of York (February 19, 1960); Anne, Princess Royal (August 15, 1950); Charles, Prince of Wales (November 14, 1948)
Grandchildren: By Prince Charles and Princess Diana: Prince William and Prince Henry (called Harry); By Princess Anne and Mark Phillips: Peter Phillips and Zara Phillips; By Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson: Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie; By Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones: Lady Louise Windsor and James Windsor, Viscount Severn
Great-Grandchildren: By Zara Phillips Tindall: Mia Grace, Lena Elizabeth and Lucas Philip; By Prince William: George Alexander Louis, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana and Louis Arthur Charles; By Peter Phillips: Savannah and Isla; By Prince Harry: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor; By Princess Eugenie: August Philip Hawke Brooksbank
She is named after her mother Queen Elizabeth, her paternal great-grandmother Queen Alexandra and her paternal grandmother Queen Mary.
She was not declared the heir apparent when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated because of the possibility of a male heir.
When World War II began, she was a Girl Guide (British Girl Scouts) and went through the same training as the other Girl Guides her age.
Official title after March 26, 1953: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
She is the sixth female to ascend to the British throne and the longest-reigning monarch. In September 2015, she surpassed the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who ruled for 63 years, seven months.
May 29, 1926 – Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, third in line to the throne, is christened. She is the first royal child to be christened in the chapel at Buckingham Palace and wears a gown made of lace worn by Queen Elizabeth I.
December 11, 1936 – Elizabeth becomes heir presumptive when her father becomes King George VI, after the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII.
May 12, 1937 – Elizabeth attends the coronation of her parents, King George VI and Queen Consort Elizabeth. She is the first female heir presumptive to see her parents crowned.
1939 – World War II breaks out. Elizabeth moves, with her sister, to the Royal Lodge at Windsor Castle. This is thought to be the time period when Elizabeth meets Prince Philip of Greece.
1942 – King George VI makes Elizabeth an honorary colonel in the Grenadier Guards, a regiment of the British Army.
April 21, 1942 – Elizabeth makes her official public debut with a review of 500 members of the Grenadier Guards at Windsor Palace.
1944 – Elizabeth is made a member of the Privy Council and the Council of State. She is now able to act for the king during his absence from the country.
July 10, 1947 – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth announce Elizabeth’s engagement to Prince Philip of Greece, a lieutenant in the British Navy.
November 20, 1947 – Princess Elizabeth marries Philip. After becoming a British citizen and renouncing his Greek title, Philip becomes His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Elizabeth becomes the Duchess of Edinburgh.
February 6, 1952 – King George VI dies of lung cancer, and Elizabeth ascends to the throne.
April 11, 1952 – The Queen decrees that she and her descendants will continue to use the surname Windsor, first adopted by the British royal family during World War I.
June 2, 1953 – Coronation takes place at Westminster Abbey.
October 16-22, 1957 – Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip make their first state visit to the United States, and she addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations.
May 14, 1965 – Queen Elizabeth II dedicates a memorial and one acre of land at Runnymede to the United States as a memorial to President John F. Kennedy.
June 13, 1981 – A teenager, Marcus Simon Sarjeant, fires six blanks at the Queen while she is riding on horseback through London. He is arrested and charged with treason.
July 9, 1982 – A man gets past security at Buckingham Palace and encounters the Queen in her bedroom.
May 16, 1991 – The Queen addresses a joint session of the US Congress, the first British monarch to do so.
November 24, 1992 – At a luncheon commemorating her 40th anniversary on the throne, the Queen declares 1992 as an “Annus Horribilis.” That year marked the separation of the Duke and Duchess of York, the divorce of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, the increasing estrangement of the Prince and Princess of Wales, and a fire at Windsor Castle.
November 26, 1992 – Prime Minister John Major announces that the Queen will begin paying taxes on her personal income. Her personal fortune is estimated to be $11.7 billion.
April 1993 – Taxation of the Queen and Prince Charles goes into effect with the provision that they may “opt-out” of the agreement at any time after April 1994.
August 1993 – Buckingham Palace is opened to the public for the first time. Money raised from the tours is to help pay for the restoration of Windsor Castle.
December 1995 – After heavy media coverage of the estrangement and affairs of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, the Queen urges them to divorce.
1997 – Addresses the nation via live television to express grief over the death of Princess Diana.
1998 – Endorses a plan to end gender discrimination in the line of succession for the throne.
2002 – The Queen celebrates her Golden Jubilee, or 50th anniversary, on the throne.
December 2006 – The Queen issues her annual Christmas broadcast live for the first time since 1960.
May 3-8, 2007 – The Queen and Prince Philip visit the United States for the 400th anniversary of America’s first settlement by a British company in Jamestown in 1607. They attend the Kentucky Derby on May 5 and a State Dinner at the White House on May 7.
April 2, 2009 – Meets Michelle Obama at Buckingham Palace and the ladies are photographed with their arms around one another. This causes lots of media attention as touching the queen is not a typical occurrence.
July 6, 2010 – Addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations for the second time.
April 21, 2011 – On the Queen’s 85th birthday, the palace releases the Queen’s official consent, the Instrument of Consent, to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. By law, the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, the monarch must consent to most royal marriages.
May 17, 2011 – Makes the first state visit to the Republic of Ireland by a British monarch.
February 6-June 5, 2012 – Celebrations take place throughout the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, or 60th anniversary, on the throne. Festivities include a 1,000-boat flotilla along the River Thames and a concert at Buckingham Palace.
November 20, 2012 – The Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary.
December 18, 2012 – Queen Elizabeth II attends a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing St, marking the end of the celebration of her Diamond Jubilee. It is the first time a British monarch has attended a cabinet meeting in more than 100 years.
March 3-4, 2013 – Is admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. She is released the following day.
June 2, 2013 – Services at Westminster Abbey mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.
June 20, 2013 – The Royal Ascot signature race is won by Estimate, the Queen’s horse. The Gold Cup win makes the Queen the first reigning British monarch to win Ascot’s biggest race.
April 8, 2014 – The Queen hosts a state dinner for Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina. Also in attendance are actors Daniel Day-Lewis and Dame Judi Dench. Martin McGuinness, former IRA commander and current Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, also attends.
March 2, 2015 – The Royal Mint reveals a newly designed portrait of the Queen that will be used on coins in the United Kingdom. The new royal coinage will make 2015 a vintage year.
June 24-26, 2015 – The Queen visits Germany, meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and stressing the importance of unity in Europe during a speech. The Queen says, “We know that division in Europe is dangerous and that we must guard against it in the west, as well as in the east of our continent. That remains a common endeavor.” On her last day in Germany, the Queen visits the site of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and meets with Holocaust survivors, as well as WWII veterans who helped liberate the camp.
July 18, 2015 – The Sun newspaper in Britain stirs up controversy, publishing a 1933 image of the Queen as a child apparently raising her hand in a Nazi salute. The picture is a screen grab from a private home movie that was shot when the Queen was about 6 years old and it depicts her playing with her siblings. A source close to the royal family tells CNN, “Most people will see these pictures in their proper context and time. This is a family playing and momentarily referencing a gesture many would have seen from contemporary news reels.”
September 9, 2015 – Becomes the longest reigning monarch in British history.
March 9, 2016 – In light of a Buckingham Palace complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organization over a front-page article in The Sun headlined, “Queen backs Brexit,” the palace issues a statement insisting the Queen is neutral on whether the UK should vote to leave the European Union — a development widely referred to in the press as “Brexit,” or “British exit.”
March 2, 2018 – Documents are released confirming and describing an assassination attempt on the Queen by a New Zealand teenager in 1981.
April 15, 2018 – Loses the last descendant of her original corgi when 14-year-old Willow is put down following a battle with cancer, according to UK media reports. While the Queen still reportedly owns several other dogs, Willow was the only remaining descendant of Susan, the original corgi given to then-Princess Elizabeth on her 18th birthday in 1944.
January 24, 2019 – In a speech to Sandringham’s Women’s Institute, the Queen calls for respecting of other view points and seeking common ground. She states, “As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture.” Her comments are seen as a message to lawmakers amid Brexit divisions.
January 18, 2020 – Buckingham Palace announces that Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are no longer working members of the royal family. As part of the agreement, the couple will be required to step back from their royal duties, including military appointments, and no longer represent the Queen. The couple will also repay the Sovereign Grant funds they recently spent to renovate their official residence at Frogmore Cottage — £2.4 million (about $3 million) of British taxpayers’ money.
April 5, 2020 – Makes a rare national address to the nation in a pre-recorded video calling for unity amid the coronavirus pandemic. “This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavor, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal.”
October 21, 2021 – According to a Buckingham palace spokesperson, the Queen spent the night at a hospital and underwent “preliminary investigations,” She is in “good spirits and resting at Windsor Castle.
1. The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, son of Queen Elizabeth II (1948)
2. The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, son of Prince Charles (1982)
3. Prince George of Cambridge, son of Prince William (2013)
4. Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, daughter of Prince William (2015)
5. Prince Louis of Cambridge, son of Prince William (2018)
6. The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, son of Prince Charles (1984)
7. Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, son of Prince Harry (2019)
8. The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, son of Queen Elizabeth II (1960)
9. Princess Beatrice of York, daughter of Prince Andrew (1988)
10. Princess Eugenie of York, daughter of Prince Andrew (1990)
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