Posted 21st Apr 2016 by Peter Byrne
In honour of Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday, we take a look at the life of our longest serving monarch
Princess Elizabeth was born on April 21st, 1926 at 2:40am. Yet her father, Albert, did not expect to be king, as he was George V's second eldest son. This didn't stop him taking his duty seriously however. For instance, he and Elizabeth's mother were fully aware of their responsibilities, and followed the tradition of not taking children on royal tours. Elizabeth was left in England as they set off on a six-month tour of Australia.
It was in 1930, when she was four, that her sister Margaret was born. Did you know that she often visited her grandfather King George V? And that the press at the time put George's recovery from illness as being down to her visits?
The 8th May 1945 was a great day for Europe; the day the Second World War came to an end. Both Elizabeth and her sister mingled with the huge crowds that had gathered outside Buckingham Palace. Commenting on it, she said: "I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, and all of us were swept along by tides of happiness and relief."
It was on the 29th November 1947 that Elizabeth married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. They married at Westminster Abbey with Elizabeth wearing a dress that she had paid for with ration tokens. Philip was a controversial choice was a husband - but he renounced his Greek and Danish titles and even converted to the Church of England before his marriage. He then adopted the surname Mountbatten.
Prince Charles was born on the 14th November 1948. Born at Buckingham Palace at 9:14pm, he was baptised the following day in the Music Room. Princess Anne followed on 15th August 1950. She was born at Clarence House at 11:50am. Princes Andrew and Edward followed, on 19th February 1960 and 10th March 1964 respectively.
It was in 1953 that Elizabeth was coronated. Following the death of King George VI, on 6th February 1952, Elizabeth's coronation took place on 2nd June 1953. More than 20 million people were estimated to have watched from across the country.
1970 saw the Queen make history - she became the first reigning monarch to visit Australia and New Zealand. She came up with the royal 'walkabout' too, a method to meet not only dignitaries but also local people too. In her lifetime she has visited all 53 of the Commonwealth nations with the exception of the two most recent joiners, Cameroon and Rwanda.
1977 marked the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The 25th anniversary of her reign was marked with parties across the Commonwealth and the UK. The Jubilee came around at a time of significant political unrest, with economic hardship making the government incredibly unpopular. Despite this unrest, the Queen remained as popular as ever.
1981 was a memorable year for two reasons. Not only did it mark the year that Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, in a ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral on 29th July, it also marked a distressing moment for the Queen when a man fired six shots at her while she was riding down The Mall. Although the shots turned out to be blanks, she was understandably shaken. Despite this she managed to regain control over her horse and the man who had fired the shots was sentenced to five years in prison under the treason act.
1992 was the year that the Queen described in the following way: "1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure." For the first time in her reign, support for the Royal Family began to dip, as the marriages of both Princess Anne and Prince Andrew fell apart. A biography was also released, which described her unhappy marriage with Prince Charles, while The Mirror released transcripts of calls between Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, whom he was secretly having an affair with. To finish off the year, Windsor Castle was also damaged by a fire.
1997 was another momentous occasion in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Diana, Princess of Wales, died after being involved in a car crash in Paris. The Royal Family was widely criticised for not returning to London to publically mourn her death - their choice to shield Princes William and Harry from the media frenzy and to follow Royal protocol was viewed as an indifference to her death. This culminated in the Daily Express running with a headline demanding that the Queen 'Show Us You Care'. That evening the Queen addressed the nation, paying tribute to Diana and she later admitted that the public backlash had shocked her.
The year of the Golden Jubilee in 2002 saw both the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret die. However the celebrations of the Jubilee year saw celebrations across the country again.
2005 and 2011 saw two marriages. 9th April 2005 saw Prince Charles marry Camilla Parker-Bowles at Windsor Guildhall. 2011 saw Prince William marry Catherine Middleton on 29th April. They married at Westminster Abbey.
2012 was another year of celebration as the Queen not only participated in the Olympic opening ceremony but also celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. 2012 also marked her approval rating hitting 90% - the highest it had ever been in her time on the throne. In 2013 and 2015 she celebrated the birth of her grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
2015 was not only marked by the birth of Princess Charlotte however. 9th September saw Elizabeth II become the UK's longest-reigning monarch, beating the previous record of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.
With the Queen celebrating her 90th birthday today she will be the world's oldest monarch - congratulations and happy birthday, Your Majesty!
Image courteys of Getty / WireImage / Samir Hussein