Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline

Since Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952, she has been a steadfast and iconic presence in British and world politics. Her long reign has seen immense change, both politically and socially. As Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Platinum Jubilee this year, let’s take a look back at some of her most iconic moments over the past 70 years!

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, better known as Queen Elizabeth II, was born on April 21, 1926, in London. Daughter of Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. As nobody expect that little Elizabeth would one day become queen of Great, she could enjoy the first decade of her life without the responsibilities or restrictions associated with being a royal.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline
Photo: Bob Thomas/popperfoto/Getty images

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline

Lilibet, as she was known, had a happy childhood.

Following the death of Elizabeth’s grandpa King George V in 1936, his eldest son (her uncle) ascended to the throne as King Edward VIII. However, Edward was in love with the American divorcee Wallis Simpson and renounced the throne so that he could marry Wallis Simpson.

Her father became King George VI in 1937 and took the name George to symbolize continuation with his father. The coronation was the defining moment in her life, making her the presumptive monarch for the British crown.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline
During the coronation of King George VI in May 1937

On November 20, 1947, Elizabeth married her distant relative Philip Mountbatten (a name taken from his mother’s side), at Westminster Abbey in London. When Elizabeth was 13 years old, she met Philip, the son of Prince Andrew of Greece. He was immediately attracted to her. The pair kept in touch over the years and eventually fell in love with each other.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline
Central Press | Getty Images

When King George VI died in February 1952, Elizabeth took up the duties of the monarch and became queen. The coronation ceremony was aired for the first time ever on television, allowing people from all around the world to see the pageantry and spectacle of the occasion.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline

On 14 November 1948, Elizabeth II gave birth to her first child, Prince Charles. The King had previously given letters patent allowing her children to use the title and style of a royal prince or princess, which they otherwise would not have been permitted as their father was no longer a royal prince.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline

Queen Elizabeth II was the first, and to this day, the only reigning British monarch to visit Australia.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline
The Queen In Australia (1954)

During a decade characterized by social and political upheaval, the queen maintained a full schedule of diplomatic activities, including a ten-day visit to West Germany (or the Federal Republic of Germany) that was the first official trip there by a British royal since 1913. Her visit coincided with the 20th anniversary of the end of World War II, symbolizing Germany’s resurgence as a global power and emphasizing the healing between both nations.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are seen in an open off-road vehicle of the British Military Police during a military procession at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, on May 27, 1965. (Kurt Rohwedder/Picture Alliance/Getty Images)

To commemorate Elizabeth’s 25th year on the throne, Elizabeth and Philip rode in the Gold State Coach from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul’s Cathedral on June 7, 1977.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline
Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Charles, Prince of Wales married the lovely Lady Diana Spencer on the 29th July 1981 in St Pauls Cathedral. The bride wore a dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel (who also created Princess Diana’s wedding dress) that consisted of ivory Duchesse satin, heavily beaded with 10,000 seed pearls. More than 500 million viewers watched this show all over the world!

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline
Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

In May 1982, Pope John Paul II paid an official visit to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in London.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline

After the divorce of Charles and Diana in 1996, public criticism of the royal family became increasingly intense, especially following her death in a car accident in Paris the following summer. The queen initially stayed at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, refusing to lower the flag over Buckingham Palace or address the grief-stricken nation. She eventually changed her mind on the flag after receiving pressure from her advisors and returned to London to greet crowds of mourners and give a rare televised speech to a country devastated by her loss.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline
abc archive

In 2002, Queen Elizabeth II marked the fiftieth anniversary of her appointment as queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, and other Commonwealth realms. The occasion was highlighted by numerous public events in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth. However, the Queen’s golden jubilee was marked by a double tragedy, when her younger sister, Princess Margaret, and their mother died within weeks of each other.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline

In July 2013, the queen became a great-grandmother for the first time when Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, the firstborn son of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Because George is third in line to inherit the throne after his grandpa and dad, he is widely anticipated to become king one day. His birth represented the first occurrence of three generations of direct heirs to the British crown since Victoria’s reign.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline

The wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, a divorced, biracial American actress, was perhaps the most emblematic moment of Elizabeth’s reign. Though the queen reportedly gave her blessing to the relationship quickly, their interactions with the British press—as well as the rest of the royal family—became more contentious after their marriage.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline
Alexi Lubomirski/The Duke and Duchess of Sussex/Getty Images

On the morning of 9 April 2021, at the age of 99, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, and longest-serving royal consort in world history died at Windsor Castle. He “died peacefully,” according to the official statement from the royal family.

Queen Elizabeth II Through the Years: A Photo Timeline
Photo: Getty Images

On February 6th, 2022, Her Majesty The Queen became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, having served the people of the United Kingdom, its realms, and the Commonwealth for 70 years.


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