Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch
Post created on 12:08 pm
After more than 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8. She was succeeded by her eldest son, who will rule as King Charles III.
Elizabeth II, in full Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, officially Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, was the queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from February 6, 1952, to September 8, 2022.
She was born April 21, 1926, London, England and died September 8, 2022, Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland surpassing Victoria to become the longest-reigning monarch in British history.
Elizabeth was the elder daughter of Prince Albert, duke of York, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. As the child of a younger son of King George V, the young Elizabeth had little prospect of acceding to the throne until her uncle, Edward VIII (afterward duke of Windsor), abdicated in her father’s favour on December 11, 1936, at which time her father became King George VI and she became heir presumptive.
Her education was supervised by her mother, who entrusted her daughters to a governess, Marion Crawford; the princess was also grounded in history by C.H.K. Marten, afterward provost of Eton College, and had instruction from visiting teachers in music and languages.
Early in 1947, the announcement of Princess Elizabeth’s betrothal to her distant cousin Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten of the Royal Navy, formerly Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was made. The marriage took place in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. On the eve of the wedding her father, the king, conferred upon the bridegroom the titles of duke of Edinburgh, earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich. They took residence at Clarence House in London. Their first child, Prince Charles (Charles Philip Arthur George), was born November 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace.
In the summer of 1951 the health of King George VI entered into a serious decline, and Princess Elizabeth represented him at the Trooping the Colour and on various other state occasions. In January 1952, the Princess and her husband set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand, but en route, at Sagana, Kenya, news reached them of the king’s death on February 6, 1952. Elizabeth, now queen, at once flew back to England. The first three months of her reign, the period of full mourning for her father, were passed in comparative seclusion. She undertook the routine duties of the sovereign and carried out her first state opening of Parliament on November 4, 1952. Her coronation was held at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953.
Beginning in November 1953 the queen and the duke of Edinburgh made a six-month round-the-world tour of the Commonwealth, which included the first visit to Australia and New Zealand by a reigning British monarch. In 1957, after state visits to various European nations, she and the duke visited Canada and the United States. In 1961 she made the first royal British tour of the Indian subcontinent in 50 years, and she was also the first reigning British monarch to visit South America (in 1968) and the Persian Gulf countries (in 1979). During her “Silver Jubilee” in 1977, she presided at a London banquet attended by the leaders of the 36 members of the Commonwealth, traveled all over Britain and Northern Ireland, and toured overseas in the South Pacific and Australia, in Canada, and in the Caribbean.
On the accession of Queen Elizabeth, her son Prince Charles became heir apparent; he was named Prince of Wales on July 26, 1958, and was so invested on July 1, 1969. The queen’s other children were Princess Anne (Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise), born August 15, 1950, and created princess royal in 1987; Prince Andrew (Andrew Albert Christian Edward), born February 19, 1960, and created duke of York in 1986; and Prince Edward (Edward Anthony Richard Louis), born March 10, 1964, and created earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn in 1999. All these children have the surname “of Windsor,” but in 1960 Elizabeth decided to create the hyphenated name Mountbatten-Windsor for other descendants not styled prince or princess and royal highness. Elizabeth’s first grandchild (Princess Anne’s son) was born on November 15, 1977.
The modern monarchy
In 2002 Elizabeth celebrated her 50th year on the throne. As part of her “Golden Jubilee,” events were held throughout the Commonwealth, including several days of festivities in London. The celebrations were somewhat diminished by the deaths of Elizabeth’s mother and sister early in the year.
In April 2011 Elizabeth led the family in celebrating the wedding of Prince William of Wales—the elder son of Charles and Diana—and Catherine Middleton. The following month she surpassed George III to become the second longest-reigning monarch in British history, behind Victoria. Also in May, Elizabeth made a historic trip to Ireland, becoming both the first British monarch to visit the Irish republic and the first to set foot in Ireland since 1911. In 2012 Elizabeth celebrated her “Diamond Jubilee,” marking 60 years on the throne. On September 9, 2015, she surpassed Victoria’s record reign of 63 years and 216 days.
In August 2017 Prince Philip officially retired from public life, though he periodically appeared at official engagements after that. In the meantime, Elizabeth began to reduce her own official engagements, passing some duties on to Prince Charles and other senior members of the royal family, though the pool of stand-ins shrank when Charles’s younger son, Prince Harry, duke of Sussex, and his wife, Meghan, duchess of Sussex, controversially chose to give up their royal roles in March 2020.
Having dealt with several physical setbacks in recent years, Philip, who had been Elizabeth’s husband for more than seven decades, died in April 2021. On their 50th wedding anniversary, in 1997, Elizabeth had said of Philip, “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.” Because of social-distancing protocols brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the queen sat alone in a pew in St. George’s Chapel (in Windsor Castle) at Philip’s funeral. The widely disseminated images of her tragic isolation were heartbreaking but emblematic of the dignity and courage that she brought to her reign.
In June 2022 Britain celebrated Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne with the “Platinum Jubilee,” a four-day national holiday that included the Trooping the Colour ceremony, a thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, a pop music concert at Buckingham Palace, and a pageant that employed street arts, theatre, music, circus, carnival, and costume to honour the queen’s reign. Health issues limited Elizabeth’s involvement. Concerns about the queen’s health also led to a break in tradition when, in September, she appointed Boris Johnson’s replacement as prime minister, Liz Truss, at Balmoral rather than at Buckingham Palace, where she had formally appointed more than a dozen prime ministers.
Elizabeth was known to favour simplicity in court life and was also known to take a serious and informed interest in government business, aside from the traditional and ceremonial duties. Privately, she became a keen horsewoman; she kept racehorses, frequently attended races, and periodically visited the Kentucky stud farms in the United States. Her financial and property holdings made her one of the world’s richest women.
[Source: Encyclopædia Britannica]