Queen Elizabeth II

Lived:April 21, 1926—September 8, 2022 (aged 96)
Career:Queen of the United Kingdom, 1952-2022

Elizabeth II was queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and head of the Commonwealth from 1952-2022. She was also queen of 12 countries that became independent after her accession to the throne: Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Elizabeth was born April 21, 1926, in Mayfair, London, and was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. She was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. At the time, she stood third in line of succession to the throne after her uncle, Edward, Prince of Wales, and her father, the Duke of York.

In 1936, Elizabeth's grandfather died and her uncle came to the throne as King Edward VIII. Before the end of the year, King Edward abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced American, and Elizabeth's father was crowned as King George VI.

After her father ascended to the throne and she became heir presumptive, Princess Elizabeth started to study constitutional history and law as preparation for her future role. She was also instructed in religion by the Archbishop of Canterbury and learned French from a number of French and Belgian governesses.

Princess Elizabeth made her first public speech in October 1940, when she was 14 years old. In a live broadcast, she sent a message during the BBC's children's program to all the children of Britain and the Commonwealth, particularly to those children who were being evacuated for safety reasons. In 1940, at the height of the Blitz, Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret, were moved for their safety to Windsor Castle.

On November 20, 1947, Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. On February 6, 1952, Elizabeth received the news of her father's death, and her coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953.

Elizabeth embarked on a series of overseas visits, including visits to parts of the Commonwealth never before visited by her predecessors. She made several historic visits, including the first visit by a monarch to Germany in 52 years in 1965, to communist Yugoslavia in 1972, and to Hong Kong and then Japan as the guest of Emperor Hirohito in 1975. She was the first British sovereign to travel to the Middle East in 1979, visited Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in 1980 and visited Ireland at the invitation of President Mary McAleese in 2011.

Several major constitutional changes occurred during her reign, including devolution in the United Kingdom, Canadian patriation and the decolonization of Africa. She received the first female prime minister at Buckingham Palace, when Margaret Thatcher replaced James Callaghan as leader in 1979. She reigned through wars and conflicts involving many of her realms. She surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother, Victoria, in 2007, became the longest-reigning British head of state in 2015, and was the longest-reigning queen regnant in history. At the time of her death, she was the world's oldest reigning monarch and Britain's longest-lived.

Queen Elizabeth passed away at her estate at Balmoral on Sept. 8, 2022.