Full name Elizabeth Alexandra Mary
Born 21 April 1926 (age 86)
Father George VI
Mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Reign 6 February 1952 – present
Coronation 2 June 1953
Predecessor George VI
Heir apparent Charles, Prince of Wales
Spouse Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Elizabeth was the first child of Prince Albert, Duke of York, and his wife, Elizabeth. Her father was the second son of King George V and Queen Mary, and her mother was the youngest daughter of Scottish aristocrat Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. She was born by Caesarean section at 2.40 am on 21 April 1926 at her maternal grandfather's London house: 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair.She was named Elizabeth after her mother, Alexandra after George V's mother, who had died six months earlier.
As a granddaughter of the monarch in the male line, Elizabeth's full style at birth was Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York. She was third in the line of succession to the throne, behind her uncle, Edward, Prince of Wales, and her father. In 1936, when her grandfather, George V, died and her uncle Edward succeeded, she became second in line to the throne after her father.
Elizabeth met her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, in 1934 and 1937. After another meeting at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in July 1939, Elizabeth – though only 13 years old – fell in love with Philip, and they began to exchange letters. They married on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey.
On 6 February 1952, after a long illness, King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dies in his sleep at the royal estate at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, the oldest of the king's two daughters and next in line to succeed him, was in Kenya at the time of her father's death; she was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953, at age 27.
In 1977, Elizabeth marked the Silver Jubilee of her accession. Parties and events took place throughout the Commonwealth, many coinciding with the Queen's associated national and Commonwealth tours. The celebrations re-affirmed the Queen's popularity, despite virtually coincident negative press coverage of Princess Margaret's separation from her husband.
In 2002, Elizabeth marked her Golden Jubilee as queen. Her sister and mother died in February and March, respectively, and the media speculated as to whether the Jubilee would be a success or a failure.
Diamond Jubilee and beyond
Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 marks 60 years as queen, with celebrations throughout her realms, the wider Commonwealth, and beyond. On 4 June, Jubilee beacons will be lit around the world.
The Queen's Wedding Dress Designer - Norman Hartnell
In a sense, the Queen has been married twice. The first time she became wedded to Prince Philip; the second time at her coronation, she became wedded to the people. Each occasion demanded a dress of majestic beauty and on each occasion she chose dress designer, Norman Hartnell.
With his theatrical training, Hartnell was the ideal person to make spectacular dresses which would hold a stage of another kind.
Less than three months before the wedding date, one of Hartnell's designs was approved and he began his research immediately. He describes this in his autobiography (1955): 'I roamed the London Art Galleries in search of classic inspiration and fortunately found a Botticelli figure in clinging ivory silk, trailed with jasmine, smilax, syringa and small white rose-like blossoms. I thought these flora might be interpreted on a modern dress through the medium of white crystals and pearls.'
Because of Wartime restrictions, the pearls were not available in this country, and eventually Hartnell obtained twenty thousand of the correct pearls from America. Once the pearls were in his possession Hartnell set about transferring the embroidery design to the paper pattern, but before the embroideresses could carry out the work Hartnell found himself in the throes of a publicity scandal.