On this day in 1952, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor ascends to the throne of England at the age of 25, upon the death of her father, King George VI, and is proclaimed queen by her various privy and executive councils shortly afterwards. As such, she is Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and Head of the Commonwealth and queen of 12 countries that have become independent since her accession: Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Elizabeth was born in London as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the Queen Mother), and was educated privately at home. Her father acceded to the throne on the abdication of his brother Edward VIII in 1936 (The Year of Three Kings), from which time she was the heir presumptive. She began to undertake public duties during WW2, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1947, she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, with whom she has four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Andrew, Duke of York; and Edward, Earl of Wessex.
Significant events have included her coronation in 1953 and the celebrations of her Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilees in 1977, 2002, and 2012 respectively. In 2017, she became the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee. She is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch as well as the world’s longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state, and the oldest current monarch and head of state on Earth.
Peering further inward, one sees that Her Majesty has maintained a stoicism, and has labored to keep the Royals personally opaque, with mixed results. As depicted in the Left Bank and Sony Pictures Production, The Crown, family challenges abound, even for a monarch. The Queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, had several turns on the scandal sheets. Eldest son and heir-apparent Prince Charles and late wife Princess Diana endured a 15-year, largely loveless marriage; just one year after their divorce settlement, Diana was infamously killed in a Paris car-wreck in 1997, devastating her sons Prince William and Prince Harry. The deep national grieving which ensued made it obvious to all that Lady Di had been the most beloved Royal.
Most recently, Prince Andrew, known colloquially as “Randy Andy” since adolescence, was ensnared in the Jeffrey Epstein, love-slave media glare, along with other American notables including the POTUS. Notwithstanding Andrew’s purported status as the Queen’s favorite, he was unceremoniously sidelined from public duties indefinitely. On the heels of that ignominy, Prince Harry and bride Meghan Markle announced their intent to retreat from public life and royal titles, staging a “Megxit” to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, this past January.
Never cloying for attention, and always coloring inside the lines, the Queen herself can be quite quotable, including her apt observation “Grief is the price we pay for love.” Indeed, Your Majesty.