Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her birthday, today, Sunday, April 21, 2019, marking 93 years in the public glare.
The Queen was born on April 21, 1926, at 17 Bruton Street in London’s upmarket Mayfair neighbourhood, which is now a high-end Chinese restaurant whose signature dishes include “Roasted silver cod with Champagne.”
Over 80 per cent of Britons has not experienced life under any other monarch, having not been born when Elizabeth ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, according to the UK Office of National Statistics.
She has reigned over 14 prime ministers, coming to the throne during the tenure of Winston Churchill.
She has also met with 11 of the 12 US presidents in office and signed more than 3,500 bills into law.
The monarch has been an animal lover all her life, and is particularly fond of horses and dogs.
She has owned more than 30 corgi dogs, her favourite breed, and even invented a new breed, the dorgi — a cross between a corgi and a dachshund.
She inherited several thoroughbred racing horses after her father King George VI died in 1952 and her rides have won more than 1,600 races.
The 93-year-old has also owned an elephant, black jaguars and a crocodile — all gifts that were looked after in zoos — and due to archaic laws, still owns all unmarked mute swans and “royal fish” in Britain, including dolphins and sturgeons.
Although not legally obliged to pay tax, Elizabeth chose in 1992 to start voluntarily paying income tax on her private earnings amid public grumblings about the cost of restoring the family’s fire-damaged Windsor Castle.
Despite the tradition and pomp of the family, the Queen has been comfortable with developing technologies ever since serving as a truck mechanic in World War II.
She sent her first email in 1976, sent a message taken to the moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969, first tweeted in 2014 and made her first Instagram post last month.
Her 1953 coronation was the first to be televised and, in 2012, her annual Christmas speech was made available on podcast.
Queen Elizabeth II was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, in London, to Prince Albert, Duke of York (later known as King George VI), and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She married Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.
On February 6, 1952, Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, died, and she assumed the responsibilities of the ruling monarch. She and Prince Philip had been in Kenya at the time of her father’s death. She was crowned on June 2, 1953.
Elizabeth II is the mother of Prince Charles, heir to the throne, as well as the grandmother of princes William and Harry. As the longest-serving monarch in British history, she has tried to make her reign more modern and sensitive to a changing public while maintaining traditions associated with the crown.
Queen Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten (a surname adopted from his mother’s side) in the autumn of 1947.
Elizabeth first met Philip, son of Prince Andrew of Greece, when she was only 13. She was smitten with him from the start. Distant cousins, the two kept in touch over the years and eventually fell in love.
They made an unusual pair. Elizabeth was quiet and reserved while Philip was boisterous and outspoken. Her father, King George VI, was hesitant about the match because, while Mountbatten had ties to both the Danish and Greek royal families, he didn’t possess great wealth and was considered by some a bit rough in his personality.
At the time of their wedding, Great Britain was still recovering from the ravages of World War II, and Elizabeth collected clothing coupons to get fabric for her gown. The ceremony was held at London’s Westminster Abbey on November 20th.
The family took on the name Windsor, a move pushed by her mother and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and which caused tension with her husband. Over the years, Philip has inspired numerous public relations headaches with his off-the-cuff, edgy comments and rumors of possible infidelities.
Elizabeth and Philip wasted no time in producing an heir: Son Charles was born in 1948, the year after their wedding, and daughter Anne arrived in 1950. Elizabeth had two more children — sons Andrew and Edward — in 1960 and 1964 respectively.
In 1969, she officially made Prince Charles her successor by granting him the title of Prince of Wales. Hundreds of millions of people tuned in to see the ceremony on television.
In 1981, Prince Charles wedded 19-year-old Diana Spencer (best known as Princess Diana), with later rumors surfacing that he was pressured into the marriage from his family. The wedding drew enormous crowds in the streets of London and millions watched the proceedings on television. Public opinion of the monarchy was especially strong at that time.
The couple gave birth to Queen Elizabeth’s grandsons Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and successor to the throne, in 1982, and Prince Harry in 1984. Elizabeth has emerged as a devoted grandmother to William and Harry. Prince William has said that she offered invaluable support and guidance as he and Kate Middleton planned their 2011 wedding.
On July 22, 2013, Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson William and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, welcomed their first child, George Alexander Louis — a successor to the throne known officially as “His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.”
Elizabeth visited her new great-grandson after William and Kate returned home to Kensington Palace from the hospital. Two years later, on May 2, 2015, William and Kate welcomed their second child, Princess Charlotte, the Queen’s fifth great-grandchild. On April 23, 2018, the couple welcomed their third child, a son.
In addition to Prince William and Prince Harry, the Queen’s other grandchildren are Peter Phillips, Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Eugenie of York, Zara Tindall, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
At the time of her birth, most did not realize Elizabeth would someday become queen of Great Britain. Elizabeth got to enjoy the first decade of her life with all the privileges of being a royal without the pressures of being the heir apparent.
Elizabeth’s father and mother, also known as the Duke and Duchess of York, divided their time between a home in London and Royal Lodge, the family’s home on the grounds of Windsor Great Park. Elizabeth, nicknamed Lilibet, and her younger sister Margaret were educated at home by tutors. Academic courses included French, mathematics and history, with dancing, singing and art lessons undertaken as well.
With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret largely stayed out of London, having been relocated to Windsor Castle. From there she made the first of her famous radio broadcasts, with this particular speech reassuring the children of Britain who had been evacuated from their homes and families. The 14-year-old princess, showing her calm and firm personality, told them “that in the end, all will be well; for God will care for us and give us victory and peace.”
Elizabeth soon started taking on other public duties. Appointed colonel-in-chief of the Grenadier Guards by her father, Elizabeth made her first public appearance inspecting the troops in 1942. She also began to accompany her parents on official visits within Britain.
In 1945, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service to help in the war effort. She trained side-by-side with other British women to be an expert driver and mechanic. While her volunteer work only lasted a few months, it offered Elizabeth a glimpse into a different, non-royal world. She had another vivid experience outside of the monarchy when she and Margaret were allowed to mingle anonymously among the citizenry on Victory in Europe Day.