#RespectYourElders: Elizabeth II, 94, is Queen of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and other realms and territories, as well as Head of the Commonwealth. She is the longest-reigning British monarch in history.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, the elder daughter of Prince Albert, Duke of York, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, was born in 1926. When she was ten, King Edward VIII stepped down as king to marry a twice-divorced American named Wallis Simpson. This led to Elizabeth’s father becoming King George VI and made Princess Elizabeth presumptive heir to the throne following him.
Princess Elizabeth received an education from private tutors who emphasized British history and law. She also studied music, learned to speak fluent French, trained as a Girl Guide and developed a passion for horses.
In 1945, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service to help in the war effort. She trained to become an expert driver and mechanic. Two years later, the Royal Family announced Princess Elizabeth II’s engagement to Prince Philip of Greece, her third cousin (both were great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) and a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. The Royal Family gave Prince Philip the title of Duke of Edinburgh.
Elizabeth and Philip’s son Charles was born in 1948, the year after their wedding. Their daughter Anne was born in 1950 and sons Andrew in 1960 and Edward in 1964.
While Princess Elizabeth and Philip were in Kenya, her father King George VI passed away from coronary thrombosis (blood clot in the heart) after battling lung cancer. She immediately returned to England and soon assumed the duties of the queen at the young age of 25. In 1953, she officially became the monarch of the United Kingdom during a coronation at Westminster Abbey.
In her almost seven decades of rule, Queen Elizabeth II traveled more than any other British monarch and was the first to visit South America and the Persian Gulf countries. She’s credited with modernizing the crown by taking a more open-minded approach to love and marriage, working hard to engage with the public, insisting her children received educations outside of the palace and voluntarily agreeing to pay income taxes.
Earlier this month was the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, a holiday that celebrates the defeat of the Nazis in WWII. PBS aired a new documentary three days before the 75th anniversary of VE Day titled The Queen at War. The documentary tells the story of the royal family’s experience during WWII, and how it went on to shape Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with her people. During this time, Queen Elizabeth II was a teenager and learning a lot about her country, war and leadership.
Queen Elizabeth II is still learning a lot about war and leadership, but the war she, and the rest of the world, face now is against COVID-19.
“We will succeed and that success will belong to every one of us,” Queen Elizabeth recently said in a pre-recorded speech from the Windsor Castle. “We should take comfort that while we may have still more to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.”