Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch, has spent seven decades as head of state for the United Kingdom and its territories. She became queen at the age of 25, shortly after her father, King George VI, died in 1952.
Born on April 21, 1926, to the then-Duke and Duchess of York, Princess Elizabeth was the de-facto heir apparent to the monarchy after her father ascended to the throne and performed royal duties from a young age. In her first public speech at the age of 14, she spoke to the children of the Commonwealth living away from home as World War II raged on.
She became the first British monarch to celebrate her Sapphire Jubilee, or the 65th anniversary of a monarchy, and the only British monarch to celebrate her
Platinum Jubilee in 2022.
Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch, has spent seven decades as head of state for the United Kingdom and its territories. She was crowned shortly after her father, King George VI, died when she was 25.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of York, George and Elizabeth, with the newborn Princess Elizabeth in this 1926 portrait.
Princess Elizabeth takes a ride on the grounds of Windsor Castle with her cousin, Gerald Lascelles, in 1927.
Britain's Princess Elizabeth, sits, left, during the wedding of the Duke of Kent and his wife Princess Marina of Greece in Buckingham Palace, London, Nov. 29, 1934. From left to right standing: King George V, Princess Nicholas of Greece, Princess Marina, the Duke of Kent, Queen Mary and Prince Nicholas of Greece. Seated front right is Lady Mary Cambridge.
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth of England poses for a 1935 portrait at the age of 9.
Lisa Sheridan/Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth, 10, holds a pet corgi in this 1936 photo. Her lifelong love and attachment for her corgis is well known — they show up in numerous photos with the Queen and the extended British Royal family.
Princess Elizabeth, right, makes her first public speech at the age of 14, from London on Oct. 13, 1940. The wartime broadcast addressed England’s children living away from home during the Second World War. She is shown with her younger sister, Princess Margaret Rose, left.
Princess Elizabeth, left, and Princess Margaret Rose of England leave Westminster Abbey through an arch of crossed swords after attending the wedding of Lady Anne Spencer, a distant cousin of Prime Minister Winston Churchill and aunt of the future Diana, Princess of Wales, to Lt. C. Wake-Walker, son of the Third Lord of the Admiralty, Feb. 20, 1944, London, England.
Princess Elizabeth, right, enjoys a joke with her father King George VI, on the grounds of the Royal Lodge, Windsor, England, Aug. 20, 1946.
Britain’s Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II, on her 21st birthday, seated in Natal National Park, South Africa, April 21, 1947. In the background are the Drakenberg Mountains.
Princess Elizabeth, heir presumptive to the British throne, poses for a photo with her fiancé, Lt. Philip Mountbatten, in London, July 10, 1947. Prince Philip was born into the Greek royal family but spent almost all of his life as a pillar of the British one. The royal couple was married for more than 73 years until
Philip’s death in 2021.
Princess Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, pose with royal guests after their wedding at Buckingham Palace in London, England, Nov. 20, 1947. The couple remained married for 74 years until Philip’s death at the age of 99.
Princess Elizabeth, Prince Philip and their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne play on the lawn at Clarence House, London, Aug. 8, 1951.
Elizabeth sits in the Chair of Estate in Westminster Abbey, London, June 2, 1953, before
she was crowned during her coronation.
Queen Elizabeth II leads the procession through Westminster Abbey’s nave after
her coronation in London, England, June 2, 1953. Elizabeth became the Queen of England at age 25 after King George VI died in 1952.
Print Collector/Getty Images
The newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, seen on the day of her coronation at Buckingham Palace, June 2, 1953. The image is a colorized version of the original photo.
Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrive at Parliament House in Hobart, Tasmania, during their Commonwealth Tour of Australia, 1954. She became the
first reigning monarch to visit Australia, as well as the first reigning monarch to visit neighboring New Zealand.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The crowd in Waitangi greets Queen Elizabeth II during her Commonwealth visit to New Zealand, January 1954. She became the
first reigning monarch to visit New Zealand, as well as the first reigning monarch to visit neighboring Australia.
Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, wave to the crowds from a balcony behind a draped Union Jack flag on May 28, 1965, in West Berlin, West Germany.
Livery-clad coachmen accompany the State Coach bearing Queen Elizabeth II on her Silver Jubilee, or her 25th year anniversary as monarch, in 1977. Queen Elizabeth would go on to celebrate her Ruby, Golden, Diamond and Sapphire Jubilees to mark her 40th, 50th, 60th and 65th anniversaries respectively.
NBCU Photo Bank
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England seen with the Imperial State Crown in 1978.
Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Prince Charles and his then-fiancée Lady Diana Spencer are seen with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, March 7, 1981.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, seen on the balcony at Buckingham Palace following their wedding on July 29, 1981. They are joined by, from left: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Pageboys Lord Nicholas Windsor and Edward Van Cutsum, Bridemaids Sarah Jane Gaselee, Clementine Hambro and Catherine Cameron, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Edward and Prince Andrew.
PA Images via Getty Images
The Queen leans forward to reassure her horse Burmese as she enters Horseguards Parade after the incident in The Mall where a man fired several blanks at her from a replica pistol as she rode down The Mall to the Trooping the Colour Ceremony, 1981. The man was later named as Marcus Simon Sarjeant, of Folkestone, Kent.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II takes a photo of her husband, Prince Philip, with her Leica M3 at the Windsor Horse Show, 1982. The two enjoyed 73 years of marriage before Philip’s death in 2021.
Queen Elizabeth II stands with six of the prime ministers who served during her time as monarch in this 1985 photo. From left: James Callaghan, Alec Douglas-Home, then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Harold Macmillan, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath.
Queen Elizabeth II reads a statement during the State Opening of Parliament in London on Nov. 12, 1986. She pledged the government would denationalize more state-owned industries and cut taxes while pursuing its main foreign policy goals the next year. Her consort, Prince Philip, listens at right.
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her private secretary, Sir William Heseltine, cheers at the Epsom horserace meeting on Wednesday, June 7, 1989. The Queen watched as American-bred favorite Hashwan, ridden by Willie Carson, crossed the line to win the 210th Derby.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II, at the invitation of then-President George H. W. Bush, addresses a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber in May 1991, Washington, D.C. This was the
first time a British reigning monarch addressed Congress.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the queen-mother, center right, joins her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, and other members of the British Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London, England, June 4, 1997, to celebrate the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, born April 21, 1926.
Queen Elizabeth II, right, opens the new Welcome Wing of London’s Science Museum with Associated Press photographer Nick Ut, left and Phan Thi Kim Phuc, center, June 27, 2000. Phuc, known as the “Napalm Girl,” was the main subject in Ut’s iconic image of the aftermath of a June 8, 1972, napalm attack in Vietnam.
Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II meet at the Vatican, Oct. 17, 2000.
Sion Touhig/Getty Images
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip ride in the Golden State Carriage at the head of a parade from Buckingham Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral celebrating the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, or the 50th anniversary of her monarchy, June 4, 2002, along The Mall in London.
Hugo Burnand/Getty Images
Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, pose for a wedding photo with their children and parents in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle following their marriage, April 9, 2005, in Windsor, England. From left: Prince Harry, Prince William, Laura and Tom Parker-Bowles are seen at the back, with Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Bruce Shand at the front.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive at St Paul’s Cathedral for a service of thanksgiving held in honor of the Queen’s 80th birthday, June 15, 2006, in London, England.
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II waves as she travels to the State Opening of Parliament on Nov. 6, 2007, in London, England. The Queen’s Speech, the first for new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was expected to introduce legislative bills on education, immigration, housing and counter-terrorism.
Britain’s Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wave with Queen Elizabeth II from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their Royal Wedding in London, April, 29, 2011.
Queen Elizabeth II poses with former Prime Ministers, including, from left, David Cameron, Sir John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, ahead of a Diamond Jubilee lunch hosted by Cameron at 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday July 24, 2012. The Diamond Jubilee marked the Queen’s 60th year as monarch.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II laughs with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex during a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge on June 14, 2018, in the town of Widnes in Halton, Cheshire, England, during Markle’s first engagement with the Queen. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have since distanced themselves from the British Royal family due to allegations of racism and mental health struggles.
Andrew Milligan/AFP via Getty Images
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, pose alongside the tree they planted to mark the start of the official planting season for the Queen’s Green Canopy at the Balmoral Estate in Scotland, Oct. 1, 2021. The QGC is a UK-wide Platinum Jubilee initiative that will create a lasting legacy in tribute to the Queen’s 70 years of service to the nation, through a network of trees planted in her name.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II smiles from her Range Rover as she attends the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Home Park, Windsor Castle on July 2, 2021, in Windsor, England.