With the 60th, or Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II due to begin shortly I felt it appropriate to include a short series of articles in her honour.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born in London on 21st April 1926, the first daughter of Albert, Prince of York and the former Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
When Edward VIII, her uncle, abdicated in December 1936, her father became George VI and she in turn became his heir. In November of 1947 she married a distant cousin, Philip Mountbatten.
Upon marriage he was required to relinquish his titles of Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark and became the Duke of Edinburgh. Although no longer valid in law he is still popularly known as Prince Philip
When George VI died on 6 February 1952 Elizabeth Alexandra Mary became Queen Elizabeth II when she was crowned at Westminster Abbey in June 1953.
And, surprising as it may seem, she never was and never will be, The Queen of England! That title has not existed for over 300 years.
England is now a part of, but not the same as, the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Equally, if not more surprising, is the fact that from 1649 – 1660, Great Britain was a Republic!
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary’s official title is “Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” and is a Constitutional Monarch in that she shares rule with an elected Government
For more than 60 years, during a period of great change in Britain, the queen has carried out her political duties as head of state, the ceremonial responsibilities of the sovereign and a large annual programme of visits in the United Kingdom as well as numerous foreign tours.
A respected head of state, in spite of the scandals and indiscretions surrounding her children and other members of the royal family! As well as her Jubilee Elizabeth will also in this year celebrate her 86th birthday.
To date, her reign of 60 years is the second-longest for a British monarch; only Queen Victoria, at 63 years and 7 months has reigned longer.
On her coronation in 1952 also became head of state of 32 different Commonwealth States as well as Head of the Commonwealth.
During her reign she has had 12 British Prime Ministers including Winston Churchill, Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher.
With Elizabeth’s accession, her grandmother Queen Mary and the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were in favour of the retention of the House of Windsor as the family name, rather than Mountbatten, Philip’s surname, so Windsor it remained.
In 1960, the surname Mountbatten-Windsor was adopted for Philip and Elizabeth’s male-line descendants who do not carry royal titles.
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