Queen Elizabeth II was born in London on 21 April 1926 during the reign of her paternal grandfather, King George V, to parents the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Prior to becoming Queen, Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten on 20 November 1947, a time when Britain continued to recover from the effects of the Second World War.
Despite causing tension on her husband’s side, the couple took on the name Windsor, a move pushed by her mother and prime minister Winston Churchill. Between the years of 1948 and 1964, four children were born to Elizabeth and Philip, namely Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. During her grandfather’s reign, Elizabeth was third in line to the throne and it was for this reason thought that Elizabeth would never ascend to be Queen. However, following King Edward VII’s abdication in 1937 and her father King George’s death in 1952, the title of Queen was bestowed upon her.
The Coronation ceremony was broadcast for the first time on television from Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, allowing the general public to gain insight into what once was a more private affair. Queen Elizabeth II’s reign has continued to be marked by vast changes in both the monarchy and the United Kingdom’s power, despite the Queen continuing to take a constitutional approach to national and Commonwealth matters.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the British Empire evolved into the Commonwealth of Nations, following a number of possessions achieving independence from the Crown. However, throughout her reign, Elizabeth has continued to travel extensively, including symbolic visits to Germany and the Republic of Ireland in 2011 – the first of its kind by any Monarch since 1911.
In 2019, the Queen made a rare intrusion into politics when she agreed to a request by prime minster Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament less than three weeks before Britain’s planned departure from the European Union. As Queen, Elizabeth continues to modernise the monarchy, dropping many of its formalities and making royal sites and treasures more accessible to the public. She is currently the longest-reigning monarch in history.