The best part of a century ago, a princess was born. Named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, she is the daughter of Prince Albert, Duke of York and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. For the first ten years of her life, the future Queen had no expectation of becoming a monarch, instead living the (relatively) normal life of a Royal Princess.
Elizabeth: An Unexpected Queen
Elizabeth alternated between living in her family home at Piccadilly, London and The Royal Lodge in Windsor. She was home educated by private tutors and learned French, maths, history and dancing. While Elizabeth’s parents originally intended for her to go to school when she was older, her uncle ruled against it in order to protect the young Royal from press intrusion.
Elizabeth was close to grandparents King George V and Queen Mary; she reportedly called The King ‘Grandpa England’ and used to lead him around by his beard. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Lillibet’ by family members, Elizabeth’s early years were spent surrounded by horses and the first of many corgis that would accompany her throughout her life. Fun fact: Elizabeth would later take her pet Corgi Susan on her honeymoon!
When she was born, Elizabeth had a similar status to Princess Beatrice. No one predicted that she would become Queen, but in 1936 Elizabeth’s life changed forever. First, her much loved grandfather died, and the throne went to his eldest son: Edward VIII.When Edward VIII abdicated the throne the following year to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, the throne passed to his younger brother. As King George VI had no sons, his eldest daughter became Heiress Presumptive.
Queen In Training
According to Time Magazine, when Elizabeth and her sister learned that the elder sister was destined to be queen, Princess Margaret said: “Poor you.” Elizabeth seemed to take the news well and went swimming the same day, but from that moment on her fate was sealed. Like it or not, Elizabeth would become Queen when her father died.
Elizabeth took her duty well, but it doesn’t seem to be something she would have chosen for herself. When she was twelve, the future Queen allegedly told her riding master Horace Smith that she would like to live a simple life in the country with her horses and dogs.
As the future Queen prepared for her new life path, she moved to Buckingham Palace and attended classes in history at Eton college. When the Second World War started in 1939 there was talk that the two Princesses would be evacuated to Canada, but they ended up staying in the UK instead, moving around between Balmoral, Sandringham and Windsor castle.
Elizabeth and the war effort
Elizabeth was 14 in 1939 and therefore too young to join the war effort, but she contributed by making national radio broadcasts which were aimed at British children to boost morale.
During a broadcast, the future Queen said: “I can truthfully say to you all that we children at home are full of cheerfulness and courage. We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers, and airmen and we are trying too to bear our own share of the danger and sadness of war.”
When she turned 18, the future Queen became an honorary subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service where she learned how to drive a truck. Unlike the other women, Elizabeth remained at Windsor Castle and did not sleep in the barracks.
A Princess In Love
Elizabeth first met future husband Philip, who was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg, at her uncle’s wedding when she was eight and he was 14.
She saw Philip for the second time when her father took Elizabeth on a tour of the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where Philip was stationed as a cadet. She was just thirteen and he was eighteen. She saw him less than once a year for a while after that, but the young Princess was smitten and the two allegedly carried on a long-distance courtship before getting married when Elizabeth was 21 in 1947. Frugal Elizabeth used ration coupons to pay for her wedding dress material.
When they were first married, Elizabeth and Philip lived in Malta where he was stationed with the navy. This was one of the few times the Queen managed to live a normal life; she even attended the occasional beach party!
The couple have been married for over 70 years and, as far as we know, Philip is the only person Queen Elizabeth has ever been romantic with. The pair would go on to have four children, eight grandchildren and seven (soon to be eight!) great grandchildren.
Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth was scheduled to go on a tour of Australia and New Zealand with her husband Philip and they stopped off in Kenya along the way. While they were there, Elizabeth received the sad news that her father, The King, had passed away on February 5th 1952. This news meant that Elizabeth was now Queen of England and she hastily returned to London.
When she became Queen, Elizabeth was a young mother with two children. At just 25, Elizabeth took on official Royal duties. Her coronation took place two years later when she was 27 and, despite her wishes, it was broadcast on national television.
Before becoming Queen, Elizabeth had managed to spend mornings and evenings with her young children as was customary for an aristocratic mother. When she became Queen, however, Elizabeth had to take on a wide range of Royal duties and was thus unable to spend as much time with her sons and daughters as she may have liked.
Prince Andrew, born in 1960, was the first child to be born to a reigning monarch since the birth of Princess Beatrice in 1857. Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, was born four years later.
Elizabeth II’s legacy
Queen Elizabeth II is the UK’s longest-reigning monarch and celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee in 2017, marking 65 years on the throne. For most people alive today, Queen Elizabeth II is the only monarch they have ever known.
From the face on the ten pound note to the Christmas speech, The Queen is an integral part of British life and England simply wouldn’t be the same without her. Find out more about Queen Elizabeth II’s life, reign and legacy at True Royalty TV.
Watch the Queen’s Diamond Decades only on True Royalty TV.