Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born April 21, 1926, is the longest reigning monarch in British history. She’s held her current position for 66 years now and has lived through 13 US presidents. She wasn’t really supposed to end up as Queen, since her father was the youngest son of King George V. The course of her life changed forever when her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936 to her father in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee.
As a child, Elizabeth was unable to pronounce her own name and referred to herself instead as ‘Lilibet’, a nickname that has stayed with her to this day. Elizabeth, along with her younger sister Margaret, was home-schooled her whole life and spent the majority of her youth preparing for her duties as queen. When she was 18 her interest in World War II led her to join the women’s auxiliary territorial service where she trained as a truck driver and mechanic.
The Queen’s Family
Elizabeth announced her engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten of the royal navy when she was just 21 years old. The betrothal was controversial due to Philip being her third cousin (they shared the same great-great-grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert). They were married in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947, and have now been together for 71 years, the longest in the history of the British monarchy.
In 1952, during trip in Kenya, Elizabeth received the news that her father had passed away from lung cancer at the young age of 56. She was only 25 years old at the time and became the 6th woman in history to ascend to the British throne. Her coronation took place on June 2nd, 1953.
Elizabeth and Philip have 4 children; Charles, Anna, Andrew, and Edward. Charles was married to Lady Diana Spencer in July of 1981 and together they have two sons, William and Harry. Their marriage quickly and publicly fell apart and was seen as an embarrassment for the royal family. When Princess Diana died in a high speed car accident in August of 1997, Britain was both shocked and devastated. The Queen made an initial statement but stayed silent for a week following the incident. The public thought Diana was being mistreated by the royal family, leading to a speech by Queen Elizabeth II at her funeral that was said to be uncharacteristically emotional.
Must Love Corgis
The Queen has famously had a love of corgis ever since the first one, Susan, was gifted to her on her 18th birthday. She’s owned over 30 corgis so far, most of which are direct descendants of Susan. She’s even invented a new breed; the dorgi, a crossbreed between a corgi and a dachshund.
The Need for Speed (But Not a Driver’s License)
Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t own a passport or a driver’s license, in short because she doesn’t need them. Since both licenses and passports are issued under the queen’s name, she technically doesn’t need them to drive or travel.
Throughout her reign she’s been commended for modernizing the British monarchy while still maintaining royal traditions.
21 of the Best Queen Elizabeth II Quotes:
On Having Courage:
“The world is not the most pleasant place. Eventually your parents leave you and nobody is going to go out of their way to protect you unconditionally. You need to learn to stand up for yourself and what you believe and sometimes, pardon my language, kick some ass.”
“The lessons from the peace process are clear; whatever life throws at us, our individual responses will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load.”
“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.”
“Today we need a special kind of courage. Not the kind needed in battle, but a kind which makes us stand up for everything that we know is right, everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics, so that we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future.”
“Cowards falter, but danger is often overcome by those who nobly dare.”
On Love and Family:
“Grief is the price we pay for love.”
“My husband has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years, and I owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim.”
“Family does not necessarily mean blood relatives, but often a description of a community, organization or nation.”
“Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters, and of family disagreements.”
“It has been women who have breathed gentleness and care into the harsh progress of humankind.”
“I simply ache from smiling. Why are women expected to beam all the time? It’s unfair. If a man looks solemn, its automatically assumed he’s a serious person, not a miserable one.”
“The devotion of nuns and nurses, the care of mothers and wives, the service of teachers, and the conviction of reformers are the real and enduring presents which women have always given.”
“I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.”
“There are long periods when life seems a small, dull round, a petty business with no point, and then suddenly we are caught up in some great event which gives us a glimpse of the solid and durable foundations of our existence.”
“Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom.”
“It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult.”
“We all need to get the balance right between action and reflection. With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock.”
“It’s all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you’re properly trained.”
“True patriotism doesn’t exclude an understanding of the patriotism of others.”
“To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.”
“The upward course of a nation’s history is due in the long run to the soundness of heart of its average men and women.”
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