Born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on 21st April 1926 to the Duke and Duchess of York, it was never thought that Elizabeth would ever become Queen. Her father, Prince Albert, was the second son of the reigning King George V and his consort, Queen Mary. The first decade of Elizabeth’s life was lived like a royal but without the pressures of being the heir-apparent.
For many of her early years, Elizabeth lived at number 145 Piccadilly, the London house taken by her parents shortly after her birth and at White Lodge, Richmond Park. In August 1930, Princess Elizabeth gained a sister with the arrival of Princess Margaret and the family of four were complete. For the first half of the 1930s, Elizabeth’s life was undisturbed. In 1932, her parents took over Royal Lodge in Windsor and the people of Wales gifted Elizabeth with Y Bwthyn Bach, a small doll-like cottage, that stood and still stands in the grounds of Royal Lodge. Elizabeth and Margaret were tutored at home where their studies included French, mathematics, history and geography as well as lessons in singing, dancing and art.
While the first half of the 1930s for Elizabeth were spent out of the spotlight, the same cannot be said for the latter half. The life of Elizabeth and indeed her family irrevocably changed in 1936 upon the death of King George V and the accession of her uncle, King Edward VIII. While nothing out of the ordinary happened at first, it soon became apparent to the Royal Family and to the nation that King Edward was in love. Furthermore, he was determined to marry twice divorced, American socialite, Wallis Simpson. In August 1936, Edward and Wallis were spotted on a cruise together along the Greek and Turkish coasts. Pictures of the couple were subsequently published in the American and worldwide press and by October 1936, Mrs Simpson had been installed in a house rented for her by the King in Regent’s Park.
In November 1936, King Edward sent for Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, and informed him of his wish to marry Wallis Simpson. Baldwin briefed the King that whoever he marries would become Queen and the British people would not accept Mrs Simpson as their Queen. After subsequent pleas to the Government to allow him to marry Wallis but to no avail, King Edward VIII signs the Instrument of Abdication on 10th December 1936. Two days later, Princess Elizabeth’s father, Prince Albert, is proclaimed King George VI. Princess Elizabeth is now heiress-presumptive.
As said, Elizabeth’s life completely changed upon the accession of her father, and she could no longer call No. 145 Piccadilly or Royal Lodge her home. Buckingham Palace became the family of four’s permanent residence. While King George VI was used to the grandeur of the palace, having lived there for 13 years before his marriage, for Princess Elizabeth it took some getting used. She and Princess Margaret were very excited over the move, especially being able to rearrange the
stable of toy horses in the long corridors outside of their rooms.
As the private life of the family of four changed so dramatically, so too did their public life. The new King and Queen had to take part in the pageantry of the monarchy, something that King Edward VIII had found so tiresome. Although King George VI and his wife were trained in the extreme formalities at the court of King George V and Queen Mary, they still had to transform themselves from the Duke and Duchess of York into King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Incoming State Visits became the norm for the King and Queen and for Princess Elizabeth too, who was, of course, a Queen in training. On one particular State Visit from President Coty of France, Elizabeth made a short speech in French to welcome the President. At a Buckingham Palace garden party, informal as they may be, Elizabeth was overheard telling Princess Margaret, “If you see someone with a funny hat, Margaret, you must not point at it and laugh. And you must not be in too much of a hurry to get through the crowds to the tea table. That’s not polite either.” Princess Elizabeth was becoming accustomed to the extraordinary pomp and ceremony of her new life and her sense of duty.
It has to be said that the biggest occasion of pomp and ceremony that Elizabeth had to become accustomed to, for it would one day happen to her, was the Coronation of her father and mother. The 12th May 1937, originally the date set for King Edward VIII’s coronation, saw King George VI and Queen Elizabeth crowned at Westminster Abbey. Queen Mary had thoroughly prepared Princess Elizabeth for the day. She even provided her with a colour panorama of King George V’s Coronation, instructing Elizabeth in the full symbolism of such an event and the names of all the participating officials. Elizabeth even wrote an account of the coronation especially for her parents with the title, ‘The Coronation, 12 May 1937. To Mummy and Papa. In Memory of Their Coronation, From Lilibet By Herself.’
While a couple of years following the Coronation were respectively quiet for The Royal Family, the turn of the decade was approaching and with that came, for the second time in 25 years, a world war.
By the time The Royal Family departed for their summer break at Balmoral on 6th August 1939, the countdown to war had very much begun. Hitler had dissolved what was left of the Czech state, announced a German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the city of Memel had been surrendered by the Lithuanian Government. When the King was informed that Germany and Russia had signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact on 22nd August, he immediately took the train for London and was soon joined by Queen Elizabeth on the 28th August. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were left behind at Balmoral in the care of their governess, Crawfie, and when war was declared on September 3rd, Balmoral Castle was closed and Elizabeth and Margaret were moved to Birkhall, where they remained until Christmas 1939.
Following the festive season, Elizabeth and Margaret travelled south of the border back to England, where they were kept out of harms way, at Sandringham until February and then back to Royal Lodge at Windsor. When it was suggested to Queen Elizabeth that the princesses should leave the country for Canada, she famously replied, “The children wont go without me. I wont leave the King and the King will never leave.” Elizabeth and Margaret were staying put and while their lives were kept away from the tragedies of London, the King and Queen remained at Buckingham Palace during the day and spent their nights at Windsor Castle. Life at Buckingham Palace wasn’t quite so quiet, in April 1940 King Haakon sought refuge at the palace followed by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands arriving in May after evading a German parachute force that was sent to capture her.
While the princesses were in the safety of the country at Windsor Castle, the King and Queen remained in the heart of a very dangerous London. During the conclusion of the Battle of Britain effectively ending the threat of invasion, the Blitz on Britain was only just beginning. London was hit hard on the night of 7th/8th September and on the 9th September, a bomb was dropped on the north side of Buckingham Palace. The Luftwaffe made a direct attack on the palace on the morning of the 13th September after the King and Queen had driven up from Windsor during an air raid. Recording in his diary, the King noted, “6 bombs had been dropped. The aircraft was seen coming down the Mall below the clouds having dived through the clouds and had dropped bombs in the forecourt, 2 in the quadrangle, 1 in the chapel and the other in the garden.” Queen Elizabeth famously remarked after the Buckingham Palace bombing, “Now I feel I can look the East End in the face.”
Princess Elizabeth, still at Windsor Castle, would feel the vibrations of the bombs hitting London. On one clear November night, she watched as wave after wave of bombers flew over the castle en route to destroying much of the city of Coventry. The bombing would bring a new verb into the German language, Coventrate, meaning to obliterate. Elizabeth also did her bit for the war effort, making her first radio broadcast to the children of the Empire. In 1942, in honour of her sixteenth birthday, Elizabeth was made Colonel of the Grenadier Guards in place of her recently deceased great-great uncle, the Duke of Connaught. In 1944, Elizabeth was made a Counsellor of State. Shortly before the end of the Second World War, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service after enrolling on an NCO’s cadre course. She only performed this role for short period since Victory in Europe day came in May 1945.
VE Day was not just the end of the war in Europe, it was also the chance for the nation to rejoice, The Royal Family included. Princess Elizabeth and Margaret were granted permission from the King and Queen to leave the Palace and join in the celebrations across London. They visited Birdcage Walk, Whitehall, Piccadilly, the Ritz Hotel and Hyde Park Corner, and back to the Palace where they joined in the chants of ‘We want the King, We want the King’.
It was before war broke out that Princess Elizabeth first met the man she would marry, Prince Philip of Greece. When it became apparent post-war that Elizabeth was besotted with Philip, there was disapproval on the part of her father’s Courtiers. His friends thought the princess was blissfully unaware, and when Prince Philip proposed to Elizabeth at Balmoral in summer 1946, she happily accepted. The King requested that nothing be official to begin with and that no announcement would be made for a year, after Elizabeth’s 21st birthday and following the family of four’s upcoming tour of South Africa.
The family set sail for South Africa from Portsmouth in February 1947 on HMS Vanguard. The tour, a resounding success, rounded off with Princess Elizabeth’s dedication broadcast to the people of the British Empire and Commonwealth. The famous speech, where the young princess claimed: “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.” A dedication that has never wavered in her 63 years as Queen.
As promised by the King, the announcement of Elizabeth’s engagement was made following their return to Britain after their South African tour. While some Courtiers were still unhappy with Philip, the King and Queen were delighted with their future son-in-law and the 21st November 1947 was the date set for the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten. The wedding day itself saw a mass gathering of royalty at Westminster Abbey including the Kings of Norway, Romania and Iraq, the Queen of the Hellenes, the Prince Regent of Belgium and the Count of Barcelona. King George VI bestowed upon Elizabeth and Philip his favourite Order, the Garter and conferred the title of Royal Highness on Prince Philip and also making him Baron Greenwich, Earl of Merioneth and Duke of Edinburgh. The newly married couple was henceforth known as Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.
1948 would see the arrival of Elizabeth and Philip’s first child, Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, the 14th November to be precise at Buckingham Palace. Prince Charles was the most Scottish prince since Charles I and the most English since Edward VI. Charles was christened on 15th December in the White and Gold Music Room at Buckingham Palace and among his grandparents were King George VI, Queen Mary and David Bowes-Lyon. While Elizabeth was delighted with her new Prince, the happiness was overshadowed by her concern over her father’s health, which was rapidly deteriorating. The conclusion of the 1940s would see the King’s health fail even more. As the 1950s approached, little did Princess Elizabeth know that it would be a decade that would ultimately change her life and see the dawn of a more modern Elizabethan era.
Before those life changing moments for Elizabeth, she and Prince Philip welcomed their second child on the 15th August 1950, Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise. Anne was born in the family of four’s London home, Clarence House. Though he was stationed out in Malta, Prince Philip returned home to meet his daughter. In September, he returned to Malta where he was joined by Elizabeth in December. Prince Charles and Princess Anne were left in the care of the King and Queen and spent Christmas at Sandringham. While Elizabeth and Philip were enjoying as much of a normal life as they could in Malta, back home it was becoming more apparent that the King nearing death. In July 1951, the royal couple made a permanent return to Britain. Elizabeth began extending her knowledge on public affairs, reading Cabinet papers and memorandums, something she had been doing sporadically for over a year already.
The King asked Elizabeth and Philip to take on his planned tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1952. On 31st January, he made the trip to Heathrow Airport to see off his ‘Lillibet’, as she began her trip to Kenya, the first stage of her journey. Little did Elizabeth know that would be the last time she would see her father as King George VI died suddenly of a thrombosis at Sandringham on 6th February. Elizabeth had unknowingly become Queen as she sat on the platform of the Treetops Hotel in Kenya. It fell to Prince Philip to tell his wife she had become Queen of Great Britain, her Dominions and her possessions beyond the seas. When asked, as Queen, what she would call herself, Elizabeth famously replied “My own name, of course.” The reign of Queen Elizabeth II had begun.
The Queen returned home from Kenya immediately and upon arrival Heathrow Airport she was greeted by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. She returned to Clarence House, where she was greeted by Tommy Lascelles and her first bundle of state papers. Later that same day The Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary, made the short trip from Marlborough House to Clarence House and known for her expertise on royal protocol, Mary curtseyed to her granddaughter, just as she had done to her son, King George VI. It is said that Elizabeth was horrified by her Grandmother curtseying to her although it just signalled her new position as head of the family, but also the shocking and sudden disappearance of her father.
The Accession Council meeting was held at St James’s Palace on 8th February. Though the young Queen did read her formal Declaration of Sovereignty, she also quite simply told the assembled Privy Council, “My heart is too full for me to say more to you today than that I shall always work as my father did.” As Queen Elizabeth left St James’ Palace, the Garter King of Arms proclaimed her accession, “Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of this Realm and of all Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was set for Tuesday 2nd June 1953 although Her Majesty would have one more family heartache to deal with before she was crowned. Queen Mary died on the 24th March 1953 aged 85 and following the announcement of her death; a large crowd gathered outside Marlborough House. People cried at the loss of a lady who was considered a national monument and a reminder of happier times. Even in death, Queen Mary was an ardent supporter of royal protocol. She specifically asked in her will that should she die before the Coronation, mourning for her should not affect the grand occasion, a stipulation that was graciously obeyed.
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the greatest of occasions and was a chance for a huge national party to which everyone was invited, quite literally. Aside from the street parties and village carnivals, for the first time in the history of television, BBC cameras were allowed access inside Westminster Abbey to film the historic ceremony. Though cameras were not allowed to film the most sacred parts of the service. The anointing, the communion prayers and the Queen’s communion were not shown to the public though it didn’t matter, for the first time in history the British people were seeing their Monarch being crowned and for those that weren’t watching it on the television, they were lining the streets of London hoping to get a glimpse of the Queen and making sure they were a part of the dawn of a modern Elizabethan era.
One of the biggest problems The Queen faced post-coronation was not in fact state related, but surprisingly for her family related and centred around her young sister, Princess Margaret. In the midst of Coronation preparations, Princess Margaret had informed The Queen that she wished to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend, a former Equerry to King George VI, divorcé and 16 years Margaret’s senior. While Elizabeth asked Margaret to hold off for a year until after the Coronation, thinking that Margaret would desist in her wish to marry Townsend, Margaret persisted in seeking the Queen’s permission. In 1950s Britain, divorce was a dirty word and at every opportunity Queen Elizabeth desperately tried to turn her sisters attention away from the Group Captain, to now avail however which resulted in Peter Townsend’s forced move to Brussels by the Queen’s private secretary, Tommy Lascelles. The exile in Brussels lasted for two years though Margaret’s feelings did not waver and at the age of 25, she no longer needed her sisters permission to marry. The conventions of State and the Church of England also placed obstacles in Margaret’s way, and she was told that should she marry Peter Townsend, she would lose all royal privileges and her place in the Line of Succession to the British throne. In 1955, seemingly under pressure, Princess Margaret issued a statement stating that she would not be marrying Group Captain Peter Townsend and that she was “mindful of the Church’s teaching.” Princess Margaret married Anthony Armstrong-Jones in 1960.
Perhaps one of the nicer things to happen during the first few years of the Queen’s reign was the 1957 Christmas broadcast. It was a historic event as not only was it the 25th anniversary of the first Christmas broadcast, made by King George V in 1932, but it was also the first broadcast to be televised. Broadcast from the Long Library at Sandringham, The Queen looks evidently nervous as she is filmed for the first time making her Christmas speech to the nation. Nervous she may have been then but 58 years later, the Queen’s Speech at 3 pm on Christmas Day has become something of a Christmas tradition. Her Majesty, it’s said, has become something of a professional both in front of and behind the camera.
The Queen and Prince Philip welcomed another addition to their family on the 19th February 1960 with the birth of Prince Andrew. Born in the Belgian Suite at Buckingham Palace, at the time of his birth Andrew was second in the Line of Succession. The baby prince was christened in Buckingham Palace’s Music Room on the 8th April, and his godparents included Princess Alexandra of Kent and the Earl of Euston. The 1960s would also see Elizabeth and Philip’s fourth and final child arrive as Prince Edward was born on 10th March 1964 and at the time of his birth, he was third in the Line of Succession. Christened at the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle in May 1964 his godparents included Prince Richard of Gloucester, Katherine Duchess of Kent and the Earl of Snowdon.
Though the 1970s saw major decolonisation in Africa and the Caribbean and 20 countries gaining independence from Britain .Queen Elizabeth II was still the head of a unique Commonwealth of nations, a role that she took incredibly seriously and fought with a passion to keep together. While its dominions overseas were gaining independence, Britain was seeking entry to the European Community, something it achieved in 1973.
Just four years after Britain’s entry into the European Community, Britain was rejoicing once again, this time on the occasion of The Queen’s Silver Jubilee. The Queen’s 25 years on the throne were celebrated with great magnitude both at home and across the Commonwealth. The House of Commons and the House of Lords both presented loyal addresses to The Queen while Her Majesty and Prince Philip embarked upon the greatest tour of Britain ever undertaken by any monarch. Beginning in Glasgow on 17th May, the tour took in an astonishing 36 counties and culminated with a tour of Northern Ireland. During Silver Jubilee year, it was estimated that The Queen and Prince Philip travelled a remarkable 56,000 miles with their overseas visits including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The climax of celebrations happened in early June with the nation taking to the streets again to party and The Queen attending a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral. The highlight for many was when she participated in a river progress down the Thames from Greenwich to Lambeth, emulating the ceremonial barge processions of her forebear, Queen Elizabeth I.
At the turn of the decade, The Queen welcomed her first female Prime Minister into office. Margaret Thatcher would go on to serve three terms in power, the longest of any 20th century Prime Minister. While their relationship is often considered to have been a frosty one, only few will ever be privy to the truth behind these rumours. It is said that Thatcher idolised The Queen, very apparent in her extremely low curtsies though stories still circulate that Her Majesty disliked her Premier and often mocked her. Whatever the truth, The Queen must have felt some affection towards Mrs Thatcher as apart from Sir Winston Churchill, how many other Prime Minister’s funerals have Her Majesty attended?
The 1980s proved to be a decade of mixed emotions for Her Majesty The Queen. During the 1981 Trooping the Colour ceremony as she was riding on horseback down the Mall, Marcus Sarjeant pointed a pistol directly at The Queen and fired six blank cartridges at Her Majesty before being overcome by a guardsman and the Police. The shots startled the Queen’s horse, Burmese. Though Elizabeth was quickly able to gain control of her horse and though she too was shaken, by the incident, she quickly regained her composure and continued with the annual birthday ceremony. In a similar incident on 9 July 1982, The Queen awoke in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace to find an intruder, Michael Fagan, in the room with her. The intruder had scaled the walls of the palace and shimmied up the drainpipes to the Queen’s private apartments. Her Majesty was only able to raise the alarm when Fagan asked for a cigarette for which The Queen called a footman, who detained the intruder until the Police arrived.
More happy occasions for The Queen during the 1980s included the arrival of more Grandchildren, in addition to Peter Phillips, who was born in 1977. Zara Philips was born in 1981 while Prince William was born in 1982, the year after the wedding of his parents, Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, at Westminster Abbey. The second child of Charles and Diana, Prince Henry of Wales, was born in 1984. In 1988, two years after the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of York, they welcomed their first child, Princess Beatrice of York.
Though filled with family happiness, the 1980s also provided The Queen with some unsatisfactory moments including her anger at President Ronald Reagan, who invaded one of her Caribbean realms, Grenada, without informing her beforehand. The Queen also became worried over Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies which were resulting in high unemployment, a series of riots and the infamous violent Miners strikes. There was family worry too as in 1982, the Falklands War began and from April to September, The Queen worried about her son, Prince Andrew, who was serving with the Royal Navy out in Argentina. The decade ended in ridicule for The Queen at the hands of her family too, whose involvement in the show ‘Its a Royal Knockout’, made Her Majesty the target of some very nasty and often uncalled for satire.
While the 1980s may have been tumultuous, it cannot be argued that the 1990s were a disastrous decade both for The Queen and for her family. While the decade began as quite a happy one for The Queen, what with the celebrations of The Queen Mother’s 90th birthday and the victory in the first Gulf War, 1992 would prove to be Her Majesty’s ‘Annus Horribilis’. In March, The Duke and Duchess of York announced their intentions to separate while in April, Princess Anne divorced Captain Mark Phillips. Perhaps the most devastating blow of the year for Her Majesty came in November, when her beloved childhood home, Windsor Castle, caught fire. The castle suffered severe damage though was fully repaired within the next few years at a cost of £36.5 million though in another blow to Her Majesty, the question of raising the funds raised critical issues of the financing of the Monarchy. This lead to the annual summer opening of Buckingham Palace and The Queen paying income tax from 1993. The year closed with the formal separation of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales and 1992 really did prove to be a horrible year for Her Majesty.
In the ensuing years of the 1990s, public revelations of Prince Charles and Diana’s marriage continued and so too did the embarrassment for The Queen. Her Majesty was from a generation where if you married, you married, and divorce was unheard of. Divorce came for Charles and Diana in 1996 and once more The Queen was at the heart of a personal battle, one that made her the centre of public revile in September 1997. A battle that had the British Monarchy on the brink of collapse.
While holidaying at Balmoral with Prince Philip, The Prince of Wales and Princes William and Harry, news reached The Queen and her family that Diana, Princess of Wales, had been killed in a car crash in Paris along with Dodi al Fayed. In the days that followed Diana’s death The Queen became heavily criticised for failing to capture and act upon the mood of the nation and instead issue a ‘business as usual’ attitude by taking Princes William and Harry to church at Balmoral, just hours after their father had broken the terrible news to them. The public also accused Her Majesty of staying in Scotland for too long following Diana’s death and not returning to London, the focal point of grief for Diana, quickly enough. There was also criticism The Queen did not hastily enough authorise the flying at half-mast of the Union Flag, a practice that is usually only used on the occasion of the death of a Monarch and not of an ex HRH. Though The Queen was only doing what she thought right for Grandsons, after intense public and Governmental pressure, Elizabeth and Philip returned to London five days after the death of Diana where she also agreed to a live broadcast to the nation, a broadcast in which she praised Diana as a mother and also expressed her feelings as a grandmother. The broadcast and her attendance at Diana’s funeral and her breaking protocol to bow to Diana’s cortege, wavered much of the public’s hostility towards Her Majesty. As the world entered a new millennium, the country’s affection for their Sovereign was at an all time high.
The Queen welcomed in a new millennium at the newly constructed Millennium Dome in the East End of London alongside Prince Philip and Tony and Cherie Blair. The year 2000 would see The Queen Mother celebrate her 100th birthday. The Queen played her part in the celebrations for the centenarian, even sending her mother the traditional telegram that everyone receives when they reach their 100th birthday. The Queen joined her mother and Princess Margaret on the Buckingham Palace balcony as massed crowds gathered outside, all there to wish Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother a very happy birthday.
Just under two years later, on the 9th February 2002 Princess Margaret sadly passed away at the age of 71. In the years before her death, Margaret suffered from poor health after having a stroke in 1998, scalding her feet in a bathroom accident in 1999 and suffering two more strokes in 2000 and 2001. Princess Margaret’s final official engagements came at the 2001 Chelsea Flower Show and her attendance at Prince Philip’s 80th birthday celebrations at St George’s Chapel. Her last public appearance came at the 100th birthday celebrations of Princess Alice just a few months before he untimely death. The Queen had lost both a sister and a friend though there was more heartache to come within a matter of weeks.
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother died on 30 March 2002 at the grand old age of 101 at Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park with The Queen at her side. Her funeral took place at Westminster Abbey on 9 April 2002 after her Lying-in-State, which included the Vigil of the Princes. The funeral was attended by the entire British Royal Family as well as foreign royalty including the King and Queen of Sweden, King and Queen of Spain, The Queen Mother of Lesotho and the Sultan of Brunei. The Queen Mother was interred in the George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor alongside her husband, King George VI, and the ashes of her daughter, Princess Margaret.
Though 2002 was marred with heartache for The Queen, it was also a time for celebration on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee. Mirroring her Silver Jubilee 25 years previously, The Queen and Prince Philip undertook an extensive tour of Great Britain and paid visits to Commonwealth realms. Street parties and commemorative events were held across the country and a pop concert was held in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, with Her Majesty, Prince Philip and members of the Royal Family in attendance. Every day of the three day celebrations, millions of people lined the streets of London celebrating The Queen’s 50 years on the throne. Just five years prior to the Golden Jubilee, public hostility was at an alarming high for Her Majesty though in June 2002, enthusiasm and affection for The Queen was greater than anyone had ever expected.
In comparison to other decades, the new millenium was incredibly calm and quite a happy decade for Her Majesty and for her family. In 2005, The Prince of Wales married The Duchess of Cornwall and though The Queen did not attend the civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall, she was in attendance at a blessing for the couple at St George’s Chapel and even arranged a reception for Charles and Camilla at Windsor Castle post ceremony.
The decade also saw The Queen overjoyed at the arrival of more grandchildren. Following the birth of Princess Eugenie in 1990, there was a 13-year hiatus before Prince Edward and his wife Sophie welcomed Lady Louise Windsor in 2003 and James, Viscount Severn in 2007. The Queen’s family was expanding ever more, and The Royal Family were as popular as they had ever been. As 2010 came to an end, the nation had a royal wedding to look forward to as it was announced that Prince William would marry his long-term girlfriend, Kate Middleton, in April 2011. Just hours prior to the wedding, The Queen conferred the title of Duke of Cambridge upon Prince William as well as Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. The Queen joined The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the wedding and hosted a lunchtime reception at the palace for the royal couple. The Cambridge effect had begun, and a new generation of royals were emerging, though still under the watchful eye of Her Majesty The Queen.
As 2012 approached, it was becoming more and more apparent that The Queen would soon be celebrating another jubilee, a Diamond Jubilee commemorating her 60 years on the throne. A Diamond Jubilee has only ever been achieved by one other monarch, Queen Victoria in 1897, and in 2012 celebrations to mark this remarkable achievement were more momentous than anything ever seen before. A four-day bank holiday weekend saw The Queen take part in a pageant down the River Thames, witness a music concert outside of Buckingham Palace and attend a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral. To top off what was an incredible year for Britain, The Queen opened the Summer Olympics in London on 27th July and the Paralympics on 29th August. 2012 saw the Great put back into Great Britain, and there was one lady at the heart of it all, our own Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen welcomed a few great-grandchildren into the royal fold in the past few years too. Peter Phillips children, Savannah and Isla, were born in 2010 and 212 respectively. Zara Phillips gave birth to Mia Tindall in 2013, and Cambridge fever was at its height when the Duke and Duchess welcome Prince George in 2013 and Princess Charlotte in May 2015.
In recent years as The Queen approaches her 90th birthday, overseas travels and engagements have been scaled back somewhat. Her Majesty continues to be one of the most hardest working members of The Royal Family, performing on average 300-350 engagements a year. Though it is considered that Prince Charles is now in training for when he becomes King, The Queen still performs her duties with the style and dignity that we, as a nation, have become accustomed to.
On 9th September, The Queen became Britain’s longest reigning Monarch and overtook the record set by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. She shows no sign of wavering from her 21st birthday speech, where she declared that her whole life shall be dedicated to our service. A pledge in my opinion The Queen has never broken, even in her darkest days.
So I leave you with this, I mentioned that those who lined the streets of London on Coronation day on 2nd June 1953 were there because they were proud to be a part of the dawn of a new Elizabethan era. Having known no other monarch, I too am proud to be a part of that Elizabethan era and proud also to call Elizabeth II our Sovereign and so there is only one thing left to say, God Save The Queen.
Photo Credits: “Queen Elizabeth II 1929” Licenced under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. By BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives from Canada [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons” Hello Great Britain” by Ben via Wikimedia Commons & Northern Ireland Office/MTHurson/Harrions