In celebration of her 60 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II is being honored with her Diamond Jubilee starting on June 2. Her Majesty reigns over the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms, which include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua, Barbados, Belize, and others. The Queen is the Head of State, and she frequently confers with the Prime Minister. But she also plays an important ceremonial role as the head of the monarchy. Biography.com takes a bow at some other interesting facts about the Queen:
She was born April 21, 1926, with the full name Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York. She and her sister, Princess Margaret, were educated at home. Elizabeth received a classical education, which included becoming fluent in French. Today, she often speaks the language when visiting French-speaking nations. Upon her birth, chances were not very high that Elizabeth would one day become Queen. But after King George V passed away, her uncle Edward VIII rose to the throne and then, surprisingly, abdicated less than a year to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. Elizabeth suddenly became heir to the throne as her father was crowned King George VI in 1936.
Princess Elizabeth was determined to contribute to the World War II effort. After convincing her parents that she should serve, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British army, in February 1945. In this role, she was trained as a truck driver and mechanic and rose to the rank of honorary Junior Commander. She is said to have enjoyed the experience of learning with a group, which inspired her to send her own children to school rather than be schooled at home.
Princess Elizabeth married her distant cousin, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, in November 1947. In February 1952, as they were about to embark on a tour of Australia and New Zealand from Kenya, they received word that the king had died. The couple quickly returned to England, and Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen Elizabeth II. Her official coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. A British fashion designer named Sir Norman Hartnell designed her coronation gown. The embroidery on the gown included British symbols including the English rose, Scottish thistle, and Irish shamrock, as well as symbols from other Commonwealth realms including South Africa, Canada, and Australia.
Her Majesty with Prince Philip - June 2, 1953.
Keeping in Touch
The Queen is known for her dedication to service and her communications savvy. Throughout her reign, she has responded to over three and a half million letters and other items of correspondence. She also honors those who live to be 100 years old; so far, she’s sent over 175,000 telegrams to people who have reached that milestone. A notable world traveler, The Queen has visited the Commonwealth realms and was the first British Monarch to go to Ireland since Irish independence, making a storied visit there in May 2011.
Modernizing the Crown
Though the Queen holds on to many of the traditions of the monarchy, she has also advocated for changes that would modernize the crown. The Queen has proposed ending the ban that prevents those in the line of succession to the throne from marrying a Catholic. She also supports putting an end to male primogeniture, so that the eldest child in the line of succession can succeed to the throne, whether female or male. Corgis and Dorgis
Throughout her reign, the Queen has cultivated a love for Corgis after receiving her first, Susan, when she turned 18. She has owned a total of 30 Corgis, including her current three: Willow, Holly, and Monty. She has also inaugurated a new breed known as the “Dorgi,” which are a mix of Corgi and Dachshund. To date, there have been 11 Dorgis including Pickles, Cider, and Berry.