1. A queen was born
Elizabeth was born on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, King George V. Her father, Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), was the second son of the King. Her mother, Elizabeth, Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth), was the youngest daughter of Scottish aristocrat Claude Bowes-Lyon.
2. Her marriage to her love Prince Philip
Elizabeth first met her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, in 1934. After another meeting at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in July 1939, Elizabeth, though only 13 years old, fell in love with Philip and they began to exchange letters.
Their engagement was officially announced on 9 July 1947. Prince Philip is the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch and the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family.
3. Queen Elizabeth II was destined to rule.
During her grandfather’s reign, Elizabeth was third in the line of succession to the throne, behind her uncle Edward, Prince of Wales, and her father, the Duke of York.
When her grandfather died in 1936 and her uncle succeeded as Edward VIII, she became second-in-line to the throne, after her father. Later that year, Edward abdicated, after his proposed marriage to divorced socialite Wallis Simpson provoked a constitutional crisis. Consequently, Elizabeth’s father became king and she became heir presumptive.
4. She finally gets crowned.
Upon her accession on 6 February 1952, Elizabeth became Head of the Commonwealth and Queen Regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon.
Today, in addition to the first four of the aforementioned countries, Elizabeth is Queen of Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
5. And her reign continues.
Elizabeth II has reigned for 63 years and seven months, beating Queen Victoria’s record. Elizabeth II rides in the same coach as Victoria did for the annual State Opening of Parliament.
Elizabeth loves the private royal estate at Balmoral, which was bought by Queen Victoria. Victoria ruled over an empire of 400 million people. Elizabeth is head of state for 138 million people.
6. Significant changes during her rule
The Queen has met most of the major figures in recent history, from India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Japanese emperor Hirohito, to French general-turned-statesman Charles de Gaulle.
South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela called her “my friend”, while her reign has seen the construction and destruction of the Berlin Wall.
The sprawling British empire of the Victorian era has shrunk to a few remnants during her reign.
Most recently, Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997.
7. The downfall in the year 1992.
She called 1992 her “annus horribilis” when the marriages of three of her children — Charles, Anne and Andrew — fell apart and her castle in Windsor was badly burnt in a fire.
*Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase, meaning “horrible year”.
8. Diamonds are the Queens’s best friend.
The Queen of England owns one of the world’s largest pink diamonds, called the Williamson Pink, that weighs 23.6 carats. This was given to Queen Elizabeth II as a wedding gift in 1947.
9. Her charity work.
An important part of the work of the Queen is to support and encourage public and voluntary service. One of the ways in which Her Majesty does this is through involvement with charities and other organisations.
The Queen has over 600 patronages. These cover every area of the charity and voluntary sector, from opportunities for young people, to preservation of wildlife and the environment.
10. The legacy continues
Queen Elizabeth II is the present sovereign and her heir apparent is her eldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales. Second in line is Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales’s eldest son. Third in line is Prince George of Cambridge, the son of the Duke of Cambridge, followed by his sister, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge in fourth place.