April 21, 1926 – Queen Elizabeth II:
”It’s all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you’re properly trained.”
Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch in British history. She ascended to the throne in February 1952, after her father died of lung cancer.
She was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. It is my understanding that that her family doesn’t have a last name. But, in 1952 Elizabeth decreed that she and her descendants will continue to use the surname Windsor, first adopted by the Royal Family during WW I. What they lack in a proper last name, the family makes up for in money. Her estimated personal wealth is at least $12 billion (U.S. dollars). The Royal Collection, which includes thousands of historic works of art and the Crown Jewels, is not owned by the Queen personally but is held in trust, as are her official residences: Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and the Duchy of Lancaster. Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle are personally owned by the Queen. The British Crown Estate, with holdings of in the billions, is held in trust and cannot be sold or owned by Elizabeth or family in a personal capacity. The Queen has her own cash machine in the basement of Buckingham Palace (for realz).
She is named after her mother Queen Elizabeth (know as the Queen Mum); her paternal great-great-grandmother was Queen Victoria.
Her official title after March 26, 1953 became Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, which made for an interesting monogram on her towels.
She is the sixth female to ascend to the British throne. In September 2015, she surpassed the record set by Queen Victoria, who ruled for 63 years, seven months.
She was christened on May 29, 1926, the first royal child to be christened in the chapel at Buckingham Palace. She wore a gown made of lace worn by Queen Elizabeth I in 1553.
In December 1936, Elizabeth became heir presumptive when her father became King George VI, after the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII. In May 1937, she attended the coronation of her parents, the first female heir presumptive to see her parents crowned.
In 1939, when World War II broke out. Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret were moved to Royal Lodge at Windsor Castle. It was during this time that Elizabeth met Prince Philip of Greece. As young girls, the princesses were British Girl Scouts, receiving the same training as other scouting girls. During the war, her father made Elizabeth an honorary colonel in the 500 Grenadier Guards, a regiment of the Royal Army.
In July 1947, her parents announced Elizabeth’s engagement to Prince Philip, and they married in November. After becoming a British citizen and renouncing his Greek title, Philip became His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Elizabeth became the Duchess of Edinburgh.
In February 1952, King George VI died of lung cancer and Elizabeth ascended to the throne. Her coronation was delayed until June 1953. For details see season one of Netflix’s The Crown.
At a luncheon commemorating her 40th anniversary on the throne, the Queen declares 1992 as an “Annus Horribilis”, a term I never want my primary physician to utter. Poor Elizabeth, it was a terrible year, marked by the separation of her son Andrew, the Duke of York, and Sarah, the Duchess of York; the divorce of her daughter Princess Anne and Mark Phillips; and increasing problems in the marriage of her son Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. Plus, there was a fire at Windsor Castle! Then it got worse; Prime Minister John Major announced that the Queen would need to begin paying taxes on her personal income.
To make ends meet, she opened Buckingham Palace to the public for the first time, with the money raised from the tours to help pay for the restoration of Windsor Castle.
After a lot of media coverage of the affairs of the Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, Elizabeth urged them to divorce in 1995. Two years later, she had to address the world via live television to express grief over the death of Princess Diana.
The Queen celebrated her Golden Anniversary in 2002.
In April 2009, Elizabeth met beautiful, stylish American First Lady Michelle Obama at Buckingham Palace and the two gals were photographed with their arms around one another. The press noted how toned both women’s arms were, and this caused a big stir because touching a queen is a no-no.
On the Queen’s 85th birthday in 2011, the palace released the Queen’s official consent to the wedding of her grandson Prince William and Kate Middleton. By law, the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, the monarch must consent to royal marriages.
On April 20, 2018, her oldest child, Prince Charles, was confirmed as the next head of the Commonwealth, following Elizabeth’s reign. The issue dominated that week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, where 53 leaders met behind closed doors at Windsor Castle to discuss the issue.
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
It is fitting he will one day continue the work of his mother, her Majesty the Queen.
The Queen announced:
It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations that one day the Prince of Wales will carry on the important work started by my father in 1949.
In summer 2017, Elizabeth’s speech at the opening of Parliament focused on the logistics and processes of the Brexit, but she also included her fierce support for the UK’s LGBTQ citizens:
My government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability, or sexual orientation,” she said, before continuing on to talk about other noteworthy initiatives such as prioritizing mental healthcare, fighting climate change and terrorism, and supporting victims of domestic violence and abuse.
This was the first time LGBTQ Rights were mentioned during a speech by the Queen since 2003, when she vowed to increase “equality and social justice by bringing forward legislation on the registration of civil partnerships between same sex couples.”
LGBTQ rights have come a long way in Britain during the Queen’s 65-year reign. Private homosexual acts between men were not decriminalized until 1967. The same law was not changed in Scotland until 1980, and in Northern Ireland until 1982.
Last year, the Queen’s cousin Ivor Mountbatten came out as the first openly gay member of the British Royal Family, and Prince William made history by appearing on the cover of a gay publication.
April 21 may be her real birthday, however, when she became Queen in 1952 following her father’s death, she also began celebrating her “official birthday”. Celebrating an official birthday as monarch is a practice that started in 1748 when King George II decided that he wanted a better chance of nice weather on his birthday than his actual November birth date afforded. He solved this problem by combining his birthday celebration with an annual parade that took place each summer. Since then, the second Saturday of June has become the date of the British monarch’s official birthday.
On May 19, 2018, American Meghan Markle and Prince Harry married at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Traditionally, royal couples get married at Westminster Abbey.
The non-traditional choice of venue is not a full break from royal protocol, Harry’s father, Prince Charles, and Camilla Parker Bowles had a ceremony at Windsor Castle after their civil marriage in 2005.
Many British citizens were disappointed Prince Harry and Markle will marry on a Saturday. Traditionally, a royal wedding falls during the work week (William and Kate were married on a Friday), and the common people are granted a holiday. St. George’s Chapel only seats 800 people and does not accommodate the 2,000 guests traditionally invited to attend the royal weddings held at Westminster Abbey. Prince Harry and Markle sent invitations for 1200 honored guests to join in the pre- and post-ceremony procession and party. Those that actual seat in the pews include: Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish, David and Victoria Beckham, Serena Williams and Priyanka Chopra.
The ceremony took place at noon London time, 4am PST, meaning American queens had awaken especially early to watch.
Meghan is now at least eight months pregnant, and she and Prince Harry are reportedly looking to hire an American nanny, possibly a male. How lovely that The Duchess of Sussex and her ginger husband will be giving her majesty a gift she never dared to dream: a little brown American great-grandchild!
How do you think Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her real birthday? I bet she will sneak a bit of cake under the table for the corgies.