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Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain was crowned in 1953. Her 60 years on the throne was celebrated in June 2012, with the Diamond Jubilee.
Queen Elizabeth II first began public duties during World War II, where she became a symbol of reassurance for the British people. In her 60-year reign, she's preserved the image of the crown throughout a period of great change.
An inside look at the royal wedding between Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
After Princess Diana's death, Queen Elizabeth II broadcast a message to the people of England.
The son of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry is third in line for the British throne. He served on the front lines in Afghanistan and holds the rank of captain.
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Queen Elizabeth II was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, in London, to Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She married Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947, became queen on February 6, 1952, and was crowned on June 2, 1953. During her reign, she has tried to make the British monarchy more modern and sensitive to the public.
"I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."
"1992 is not a year I shall look back on with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an 'annus horribilis.'"
"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."
"Discrimination still exists. Some people feel that their own beliefs are being threatened. Some are unhappy about unfamiliar cultures. They all need to be reassured that there is so much to be gained by reaching out to others; that diversity is indeed a strength and not a threat."
"Grief is the price we pay for love."
"I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else, I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations."
"In remembering the appalling suffering of war on both sides, we recognize how precious is the peace we have built in Europe since 1945."
"We lost the American colonies because we lacked the statesmanship to know the right time and the manner of yielding what is impossible to keep."
"Have you been playing a long time?" (To Eric Clapton at a palace reception)
"The British monarchy doesn't depend entirely on glamour, as the long, long reign of Queen Elizabeth II continues to demonstrate. Her unflinching dutifulness and reliability have conferred something beyond charm upon the institution, associating it with stoicism and a certain integrity."
At the time of her birth, no one thought Elizabeth would someday become queen of Great Britain. Her father, Prince Albert, was the second son of King George V and Queen Mary. Elizabeth got to enjoy the first decade of her life with all the privileges of being a royal without the pressures of being the heir apparent.
Her father and mother, also known as the Duke and Duchess of York, divided their time between a home in London and Royal Lodge, the family's home on the grounds of Windsor Great Park. Elizabeth and her younger sister Margaret were educated at home by tutors. Their studies included French, mathematics, history and geography. They also took dancing, singing and art lessons.
In 1936, the course of Elizabeth's life changed with the death of her grandfather, King George V. Her uncle became King Edward VIII, but he only ruled for six months. King Edward was in love with American divorcee Wallis Simpson, and had to choose between her and the crown. In the end, Edward chose Simpson and Elizabeth's father, Prince Albert, became King George VI.
With the outbreak of World War II, Elizabeth and her sister largely stayed out of London, spending much of their time at Winsor Castle. From there, she made one of her famous broadcasts. Over the radio, Elizabeth sought to reassure children who had been evacuated from their homes and families. The 14-year-old princess, showing her calm and firm personality, told them that "in the end, all will be well for God will care for us and give us victory and peace."
Elizabeth soon started taking up other public duties. Appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards by her father, Elizabeth made her first public appearance inspecting the troops in 1942. She also began to accompany her parents on official visits within Great Britain.
In 1945, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service to help in the war effort. She trained side-by-side with other British women to be an expert driver and mechanic. While her volunteer work only lasted a few months, it offered Elizabeth a glimpse into a different, non-royal world.
Elizabeth first met Philip Mountbatten, son of Prince Andrew of Greece, when she was only 13 and was smitten with him from the start. Distant cousins, the pair kept in touch over the years and eventually fell in love. Her father, King George VI, was hesitant about the match. Mountbatten had ties to both the Danish and Greek royal families, but he didn't possess great wealth and was a bit rough in his personality. They made an unusual pair. Elizabeth was quiet and reserved while Philip was boisterous and outspoken.
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