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The Queen is Head of State of the UK and 15
other Commonwealth realms.
The elder daughter of King George VI and
Queen Elizabeth, she was born in 1926 and
became Queen at the age of 25, and has reigned
through more than five decades of enormous
social change and development.
The Queen is married to Prince Philip, Duke
of Edinburgh and has four children and eight
Is the Queen the head of the state?
Who was her father?
When was the Queen born?
At what age did she become the Queen?
How many decades does she reign?
Who is her husband?
How many children and grandchildren does
she have?
The Queen was born at 2.40am
on 21 April 1926 at 17 Bruton
Street in Mayfair, London.
She was the first child of The Duke and
Duchess of York, who later became King
George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
At the time she stood third in line of
succession to the throne after Edward,
Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII),
and her father, The Duke of York. But it was
not expected that her father would become
King, or that she would become Queen.
The Princess was christened Elizabeth
Alexandra Mary in the private chapel at
Buckingham Palace. She was named after
her mother, while her two middle names
are those of her paternal greatgrandmother, Queen Alexandra, and
paternal grandmother, Queen Mary.
The Princess's early years were spent at 145
Piccadilly, the London house taken by her
parents shortly after her birth, and at White
Lodge in Richmond Park.
She also spent time at the country homes of
her paternal grandparents, King George V and
Queen Mary, and her mother's parents, the Earl
and Countess of Strathmore.
In 1930, Princess Elizabeth gained a sister,
with the birth of Princess Margaret Rose. The
family of four was very close.
When she was six years old, her parents
took over Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park
as their own country home. In the grounds of
Royal Lodge Princess Elizabeth had her own
small house, Y Bwthyn Bach (the Little
Cottage), which was given to her by the people
of Wales in 1932.
Princess Elizabeth's quiet family life came to
an end in 1936, when her grandfather, King
George V, died. His eldest son came to the
throne as King Edward VIII, but, before the
end of the year, King Edward VIII had decided
to give up the throne in order to marry the
woman he loved, Mrs Wallis Simpson.
Upon his abdication,
father acceded to the
throne as King George
VI, and in 1937 the two
Princesses attended their
parents' coronation in
Westminster Abbey.
Princess Elizabeth was
now first in line to the
throne, and a figure of
even more intense public
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 as preparation for her
future role.
She received tuition from her father, as well as
sessions with Henry Marten, the Vice-Provost of
Eton. She was also instructed in religion by the
Archbishop of Canterbury.
Princess Elizabeth also learned French from a
number of French and Belgian governesses. It is a
skill which has stood The Queen in good stead, as
she often has cause to use it when speaking to
ambassadors and heads of state from Frenchspeaking countries, and when visiting Frenchspeaking areas of Canada.
Elizabeth also studied art and music, learned to
ride, and became a strong swimmer. She won the
Children's Challenge Shield at London's Bath Club
when she was thirteen.
Princess Elizabeth enrolled as a Girl Guide
when she was eleven, and later became a Sea
In 1940, at the height of the Blitz, the young
Princesses were moved for their safety to
Windsor Castle, where they spent most of the
war years.
It was a time of austerity and anxiety for the
whole country, including the Royal Family. But
at Christmas time there was a period of light
relief when the young Princesses put on
pantomimes with the children of members of
staff for the enjoyment of her family and
employees of the Royal Household.
Shortly after the Royal Family returned from
South Africa in 1947, the Princess's engagement
to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten was
The couple, who had known each other for
many years, were married in Westminster Abbey
on 20 November 1947. The event was fairly simple,
as Britain was still recovering from the war, and
Princess Elizabeth had to collect clothing coupons
for her dress, like any other young bride. They
spent their honeymoon at Broadlands, Hampshire,
the home of Lord Mountbatten, and at Birkhall,
Mountbatten, now His
Royal Highness The
Prince Philip, Duke of
Edinburgh, was the son
of Prince Andrew of
Greece and a great-greatgrandson
Victoria. The Queen has
paid public tribute to her
occasions, recalling his
loyal support and service
to the country.
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.
Elizabeth became Queen,
their third child, Prince
Andrew, arrived in 1960
and the fourth, Prince
Edward, in 1964. Prince
Edward were the first
children to be born to a
reigning monarch since
Queen Victoria had her
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 and Viscount Severn
(b.2003 and 2007), children of The Earl and
Countess of Wessex.
Family life has been an essential support to
The Queen throughout her reign. The family
usually spends Christmas together at
Sandringham in Norfolk, attending church on
Christmas Day.
After her marriage in 1947, Princess
Elizabeth paid formal visits with The Duke of
Edinburgh to France and Greece, and in
autumn 1951 they toured Canada.
Princess Elizabeth also visited Malta four
times while Prince Philip was stationed there
on naval duties, and enjoyed the life of a naval
wife and young mother.
This way of life was not to last long, as her
father's health was deteriorating. 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 Wednesday, 6 February 1952, Princess Elizabeth received
the news of her father's death and her own accession to the throne,
while staying in a remote part of Kenya.
The tour had to be abandoned, and the young Princess flew
back to Britain as Queen. She was greeted by Prime Minister
Winston Churchill and other officials at the airport.
The Coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on 2 June
1953. It was a solemn ceremony conducted by Dr Geoffrey Fisher,
Archbishop of Canterbury.
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.
Crowds of people viewed the procession all
along the route, despite heavy rain. The ceremony
was also broadcast on radio around the world and,
at The Queen's request, on television for the first
home to hundreds of
thousands of people
splendor and significance
of the Coronation in a
The Coronation was
through every part of
London, a review of the
fleet at Spithead, and
Northern Ireland and
Much has happened
over the course of The
Queen's life. Television has
been invented, man has
walked on the moon for the
first time and the Berlin
Wall has been built and
then razed to the ground.
Her Majesty's life has seen
many changes too, from
fulfilling her role as Queen
at the age of 25, to raising a
family, to world travel on a
previous monarchs.
An animal lover since
childhood, The Queen takes
knowledgeable interest in
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.
The Queen's horses won
races at Royal Ascot on a
number of occasions. There
was a notable double on 18
June 1954 when Landau won
the Rous Memorial Stakes and
a stallion called Aureole won
the Hardwicke Stakes, and in
1957 The Queen had four
winners during Ascot week.
In 1984, 1986 and 1991 Her
Majesty made brief private
visits to the United States to
see stallion stations and stud
farms in Kentucky.
walking in the countryside and
working her Labradors, which
were bred at Sandringham.
A lesser known interest is
Scottish country dancing.
Each year during her stay
at Balmoral Castle, The
known as Gillies' Balls, for
neighbors, estate and
Castle staff and members
of the local community.
The Queen has many different duties to
perform every day.
Some are public duties, such as ceremonies,
receptions and visits within the United
Kingdom or abroad.
Other duties are carried out
away from the cameras, but
they are no less important.
These include reading letters
from the public, official papers
and briefing notes; audiences
with political ministers or
ambassadors; and meetings
with her Private Secretaries to
discuss daily business and her
future diary plans.
Even when she is away
from London, in residence at
Balmoral or Sandringham, she
receives official papers nearly
every day of every year and
remains fully briefed on
matters affecting her realms.
In front of the camera or
away from it, The Queen's
duties go on, and no two days
in her life are ever the same.
Norman Hartnell, who first worked for the
then Princess Elizabeth in the 1940s, produced
many of the finest evening dresses in Her
Majesty’s wardrobe. His signature style of the
1940s and 1950s was full-skirted dresses in
sumptuous silks and duchesse satins.
Hardy Amies began designing clothes for
The Queen in the early 1950s and established
his name with the deceptive simplicity of his
accomplished tailoring. The portraits by Cecil
Beaton released to mark Her Majesty’s birthday
in 1969 the are amongst the most memorable
designs by Hardy Amies.
In the 1970s The Queen awarded her
patronage to Ian Thomas, who was an assistant
designer to Norman Hartnell before setting up
his own salon. Thomas’s flowing chiffon
dresses from the 1970s reflect the relaxed style
of the decade. Maureen Rose of the same house
continued to design for Her Majesty after Ian’s
death until the late 80’s.
Between 1988 and 1996, Her Majesty’s dresses
were designed by John Anderson. His business
partner Karl Ludwig Rehse took over the
mantle after his death in 1988 and the Queen
still wears his designs today.
Stewart Parvin, the
youngest of Her Majesty’s
Edinburgh College of Art.
He began to design for
The Queen in 2000 and
continues to do so.
Personal Assistant and
Senior Dresser to The
Queen. Her role includes
designing for The Queen,
which she has done since
2002. Angela and her
team try and use both old
and new fabrics when
designing. Some of the
material they incorporate
has been given to Her
Majesty many years ago,
some dates from when
Throughout the centuries, Britain's kings and
queens have built or bought palaces to serve as
family homes, workplaces and as centers of
government. Some of these are still being used
today as official Royal residences and many
can be visited by the general public.
Overlooking St. James's Park is
Buckingham Palace which has been the
Sovereign's official residence since the
accession in 1837 of Queen Elizabeth.
The Palace contains of the 600 rooms.
Behind the Palace are 90 acres of private
The main approach to the Palace is along
the mall.
The Palace is not guarded by the five
regiments of foot guards.
The Queen meets thousands of people each year in
the UK and overseas. Before meeting Her Majesty,
many people ask how they should behave. The
simple answer is that there are no obligatory codes
of behaviour - just courtesy.
However, many people wish to observe the
traditional forms of greeting.
For men this is a neck bow (from the head only)
whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer
simply to shake hands in the usual way.
On presentation to The Queen, the correct formal
address is 'Your Majesty' and subsequently 'Ma'am'.
You can write to Her Majesty at the following address:
Her Majesty The Queen
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA
If you wish to write a formal letter, you can open with
'Madam' and close the letter with the form 'I have the honour
to be, Madam, Your Majesty's humble and obedient servant'.
This traditional approach is by no means obligatory. You
should feel free to write in whatever style you feel
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