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The Queen of the UK

The Queen of the UK

The Queen was born in London on 21 April 1926, the first child of The Duke

and Duchess of York, subsequently King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Five

weeks later she was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the chapel at

Buckingham Palace.

The Princess's early years were spent at 145 Piccadilly, the London house

taken by her parents shortly after her birth; at White Lodge in Richmond

Park; and at the country homes of her grandparents, King George V and Queen

Mary, and the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. When she was six years old,

her parents took over Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park as their own

country home.


Princess Elizabeth was educated at home with Princess Margaret, her younger

sister. After her father succeeded to the throne in 1936 and she became

heir presumptive, she started to study constitutional history and law. She

also studied art and music; learned to ride (she has been a keen horsewoman

since early childhood); and enjoyed amateur theatricals and swimming - she

won the Children's Challenge Shield at London's Bath Club when she was

thirteen. She enrolled as a Girl Guide when she was eleven, and later

became a Sea Ranger.


As the Princess grew older she began to take part in public life. She

broadcast for the first time in October 1940, when she was 14; she sent a

message during the BBC's children's programme to all the children of

Britain and the Commonwealth, particularly to those children who were being

evacuated for safety reasons. In early1942 she was appointed Colonel-in-

Chief of the Grenadier Guards, and on her sixteenth birthday she carried

out her first public engagement, when she inspected the regiment. In April

1943, Princess Elizabeth carried out her first solo public engagement, when

she spent a day with a Grenadier Guards tank battalion in Southern Command.

Thereafter her official duties increased, particularly in connection with

young people: she was President of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for

Children in Hackney and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty

to Children. From March 1944 onwards, she also began to accompany the King

and Queen on many of their tours within Britain.

Shortly after her eighteenth birthday in 1944, Princess Elizabeth was

appointed a Counsellor of State during the King's absence on a tour of the

Italian battlefields and, for the first time, carried out some of the

duties of Head of State. In August that year, with Queen Elizabeth, the

Princess received an address from the House of Commons, and replied on

behalf of the Throne.

In September 1944, the Princess carried out her first official tour of

Scotland with her parents, including her first opening ceremony in October

when she opened the recently reconstructed Aberdeen Sailors' Home. The

Princess's first flight by air was in July 1945, when she accompanied the

King and Queen on a two-day visit to Northern Ireland.

In early 1945 the Princess was made a Subaltern in the Auxiliary

Territorial Service (ATS). By the end of the war she had reached the rank

of Junior Commander, having completed her course at No. 1 Mechanical

training Centre of ATS and passed out as a fully qualified driver.

After the end of the war, Princess Elizabeth's public engagements continued

to grow, and she travelled extensively to attend public functions

throughout the British Isles. These included the launching of a new

aircraft carrier in Belfast and a tour of Ulster in March 1946, and

attending the National Eisteddfod of Wales in August 1946.

Her first official overseas visit took place in 1947, when she accompanied

her parents and sister on a tour of South Africa. During this tour she

celebrated her twenty-first birthday, and gave a broadcast address

dedicating herself to the service of the Commonwealth - a dedication she

repeated five years later on her accession to the throne.

On her return from the South Africa tour, Princess Elizabeth received the

freedom of the City of London in June 1947; in July, she received the

freedom of the city of Edinburgh.

In November 1947, Princess Elizabeth was created a Lady of the Garter at a

private investiture by the King.


Shortly after the Royal Family returned from South Africa, the Princess's

engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten was announced. The couple, who

had known each other for many years, were married in Westminster Abbey on

20 November 1947. Lieutenant Mountbatten, now His Royal Highness The Prince

Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and a

great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria.

The Royal couple had four children, and seven grandchildren.

Prince Charles, now The Prince of Wales, Heir apparent to the throne, was

born in 1948, and his sister, Princess Anne, now The Princess Royal, two

years later.

After Princess Elizabeth became Queen, their third child, Prince Andrew,

arrived in 1960 and the fourth, Prince Edward, in 1964. Prince Andrew and

Prince Edward were the first children to be born to a reigning monarch

since Queen Victoria had her family.

Their grandchildren are Peter and Zara Phillips (b. 1977 and 1981); Prince

William of Wales and Prince Henry of Wales (b. 1982 and 1984); Princess

Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie of York (b. 1988 and 1990); and The

Lady Louise Windsor, daughter of The Earl and Countess of Wessex (b. 2003).


After her marriage Princess Elizabeth paid formal visits with The Duke of

Edinburgh to France and Greece; in autumn 1951 they toured Canada. She also

visited Malta four times while The Duke was stationed there on naval

duties. In 1952, King George VI's illness forced him to abandon his

proposed visit to Australia and New Zealand. The Princess, accompanied by

Prince Philip, took his place. On 6 February, during the first stage of

this journey, in Kenya, she received the news of her father's death and her

own accession to the throne.

Her Majesty's coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953.

Representatives of the peers, the Commons and all the great public

interests in Britain, the Prime Ministers and leading citizens of the other

Commonwealth countries, and representatives of foreign states were present.

The ceremony was broadcast on radio around the world and, at The Queen's

request, on television. It was television, then in its relative infancy,

that brought home the splendour and the deep significance of the coronation

to many hundreds of thousands of people in a way never before possible. The

coronation was followed by drives through every part of London, a review of

the fleet at Spithead, and visits to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.


In winter 1953 Her Majesty set out to accomplish, as Queen, the

Commonwealth tour she had begun before the death of her father. With The

Duke of Edinburgh she visited Bermuda, Jamaica, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand,

Australia, Ceylon, Uganda, Malta and Gibraltar. This was the first of

innumerable tours of the Commonwealth they have undertaken at the

invitation of the host governments. During the past fifty years The Queen

and Prince Philip have also made frequent visits to other countries outside

the Commonwealth at the invitation of foreign Heads of State.

Since her Coronation, The Queen has also visited nearly every county in

Britain, seeing new developments and achievements in industry, agriculture,

education, the arts, medicine and sport and many other aspects of national


As Head of State, The Queen maintains close contact with the Prime

Minister, with whom she has a weekly audience when she is in London, and

with other Ministers of the Crown. She sees all Cabinet papers and the

records of Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings. She receives important

Foreign Office telegrams and a daily summary of events in Parliament.

Her Majesty acts as host to the Heads of State of Commonwealth and other

countries when they visit Britain, and receives other notable visitors from


She holds Investitures in Britain and during her visits to other

Commonwealth countries, at which she presents honours to people who have

distinguished themselves in public life.

As Sovereign, Her Majesty is head of the Navy, Army and Air Force of

Britain. On becoming Queen she succeeded her father as Colonel-in-Chief of

all the Guards Regiments and the Corps of Royal Engineers and as Captain-

General of the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Honourable Artillery

Company. At her Coronation she assumed similar positions with a number of

other units in Britain and elsewhere in the Commonwealth. (A full list

appears in Whitaker's Almanack.)

Every year, Her Majesty entertains some 48,000 people from all sections of

the community (including visitors from overseas) at Royal Garden Parties

and other occasions. At least three garden parties take place at Buckingham

Palace and a fourth at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, in Edinburgh.

Additional 'special' parties are occasionally arranged, for example to mark

a significant anniversary for a charity. In 1997, there was a special Royal

Garden Party attended by those sharing The Queen and The Duke of

Edinburgh's golden wedding anniversary. In the summer of 2002 there was a

special Golden Jubilee Garden Party for individuals born on Accession Day,

6 February 1952.

Her Majesty also gives regular receptions and lunches for people who have

made a contribution in different areas of national and international life.

She also appears on many public occasions such as the services of the

Orders of the Garter and the Thistle; Trooping the Colour; the Remembrance

Day ceremony; and national services at St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster


The Queen is Patron or President of over 700 organisations. Each year, she

undertakes a large number of engagements: some 478 in the UK and overseas

in 2003.


In 1977 The Queen's Silver Jubilee was celebrated in Britain and throughout

the Commonwealth. Accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen travelled

some 90,000 kilometres (56,000 miles) to share the anniversary with her

people. Enormous crowds greeted them wherever they went, and millions more

shared in the celebrations through radio and television. In 1986 The Queen

took part in celebrations in Windsor and London to mark her sixtieth


Although it was not regarded as a Jubilee, the 40th anniversary of The

Queen's Accession in 1992 was marked by a number of events and community

projects in the UK. These were organised privately or through the Royal

Anniversary Trust. On Accession Day itself, 6 February, the BBC broadcast

Elizabeth R, a television documentary on The Queen's working life. This was

subsequently shown in over 25 countries around the world.

On 20 November 1997 The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their

Golden Wedding. A special Garden Party for couples celebrating their Golden

Wedding was held at Buckingham Palace in July. The anniversary itself was

marked by a service at Westminster Abbey, a lunch hosted by the Government

at Banqueting House and a family dance held in the newly restored State

Rooms at Windsor Castle.

The year 2002 saw The Queen's Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years since The

Queen's Accession (rather than the Coronation, which took place in 1953).

This special milestone had previously been achieved by only five earlier

British monarchs - King Henry III, King Edward III, King James VI and I,

King George III and Queen Victoria.

Celebrations in the United Kingdom ran throughout the summer months of

2002, including extensive regional visits. The Jubilee Weekend saw the

focus of national celebrations, including two free public concerts for over

24,000 people in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, a pageant in the Mall, a

service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral, and an appearance on the

balcony of Buckingham Palace before a crowd of one million people. During

the course of the year The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh also visited

Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and Canada.


Her Majesty takes a keen and highly knowledgeable interest in horses. She

attends the Derby at Epsom, one of the classic flat races in Britain, and

the Summer Race Meeting at Ascot, which has been a Royal occasion since

1911. As an owner and breeder of thoroughbreds, she often visits other race

meetings to watch her horses run, and also frequently attends equestrian

events. In 1984, 1986 and 1991 Her Majesty made brief private visits to the

United States to see stallion stations and stud farms in Kentucky.


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