Queen Elizabeth : A Queen with an Unwavering Spirit
The second longest serving and the fortieth monarch, Queen Elizabeth II is in every sense of the term, a queen. A woman of dignity, grace, respect, she serves her duty with utmost sincerity and
diligence and has righteously earned the appreciation of millions in the process. From day one of her ‘crowned’ position, she embraced her world whole-heartedly and though her journey has had its share of ups and downs, her commitments towards her duties remain undaunted. She is a figure of great repute, of great public interest and of great esteem and her relentless service of 61 years truly demands a salute.
With the full load of the royal responsibilities on her shoulder she continues to serve her term with as much devotion. Queen Elizabeth, the queen of the United Kingdom and other commonwealth realms is today one of the most powerful women whose popularity far outweighs the popularity of other famous personalities.
Early Life :
Born as the first child to Prince Albert, Duke of York and Elizabeth, the Duchess of York, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary as she was christened, entered the royal paradise on 21 April 1926. Prince Albert the Duke of York was the second child of King George V and Queen Mary. Born as the youngest daughter to Scottish aristocrat Claude Bowes-Lyon, the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne is Elizabeth, the Duchess of York. Elizabeth’s name sprang from the merging of her mother’s name, Elizabeth, paternal great-grandmother’s name, Queen Alexandra and her paternal grandmother’s name, Queen Mary. Close family members called her Lilibet.
Elizabeth had a sister Princess Margaret, who was younger to her by four years. Both the sisters were educated at home by their mother and their governess, Marion Crawford. They took lessons in math, geography, history, French in addition to lessons in extra curricular activities like singing, dancing and art. Princess Elizabeth spent her early years shuffling between her London home at 145 Piccadily, her White Lodge in Richmond Park. S, her paternal grandparents King George V and Queen Mary’s home and the homes of her maternal grandparents, the Earl and the Countess of Strathmore. The family of four was close knitted.
The Princess’ life changes
Elizabeth’s life underwent a sea change after the death of her grandfather, King George V in 1936. Elizabeth was the third in the line to the throne during her grandfather’s reign and after his death, she became second in line to the throne. As her uncle Edward, Prince of Wales was the eldest son of George V; he succeeded to the throne as King Edward VIII making Elizabeth’s father the first in line to the throne. However, King Edward VIII ruled only for six months, giving up his throne for the woman he wanted to marry, Wallis Simpson, an American socialite and a divorcee. Edwards’s abdication paved the way to the throne for Elizabeth’s father Prince Albert and he became King George VI. This placed Princess Elizabeth first in line to the throne.
The onset of the World War II, forced Elizabeth and her sister to spend their days outside London, and at Winsor Castle. This was the center from which Elizabeth at the age of 14 years started her famous broadcasts, comforting the evacuated children over the radio. She would say “in the end, all will be well for God will care for us and give us victory and peace.”
Elizabeth gradually started making public appearances and attending to pubic duties. She was chosen by her father to be the Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards in the year 1943. She was sixteen then. She also started touring with her parents within Great Britain. She joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in the year 1945, and simultaneously trained herself in driving and in mechanic work. Working as a volunteer gave Elizabeth a chance to escape from her royal boundaries and get a peep of the world beyond. Five months later she was given the promotion to honorary Junior Commander.
On Elizabeth’s 18th birthday, a new duty was assigned unto her. She was granted permission to act as one of the five Counselors of State on the occasion of her father’s nonattendance. In the year 1947, she set out on her first overseas tour to southern Africa with her parents. On her 21st birthday, she pledged;
“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.”
Marriage and Children :
Elizabeth was only 13 when she developed a soft corner for her future husband, Philip Mountbatten, Prince of Greece and Denmark. He was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and also a distant cousin of Elizabeth. They began to exchange letters post a couple of meetings and over the years, their love strengthened the bond between them. Initially there were objections to their marriage as Philip had links with both the Greek and the Danish royal families, was not stinking rich and was completely opposite to Elizabeth in nature. As Marion Crawford writes; “Some of the King’s advisors did not think him good enough for her. He was a prince without a home or kingdom. Some of the papers played long and loud tunes on the string of Philip’s foreign origin.”
However, their engagement was finally publicized on 9 July 1947. They got married later that year on 20 November at Westminster Abbey. Before the wedding Prince Philip was conferred the title the Duke of Edinburgh. The following year on 14 November 1948, the couple gave birth to Prince Charles. This was followed by the birth of their second child, a daughter, Princess Anne in the year 1950. They went on to have two sons, Andrew and Edward, who were born in 1960 and in 1962 respectively.
Elizabeth Becomes the Queen :
George VI’s deteriorating health during the 1951 thwarted him from attending to his duties. As the first in line to the throne, Elizabeth took over her father’s place at many public events. During her tour of Australia and New Zealand in the early 1952, the news of her father, the King’s death arrived. They returned immediately to the United Kingdom with Elizabeth assuming the duties of a ruling monarch simultaneously.
Elizabeth’s coronation officially took place in the month of June 1953 at Westminster Abbey. It was the first ceremony of its kind to be televised worldwide.
Elizabeth in Her New Role and Her Days as the Queen :
With her new role came new political duties. She held a weekly meeting with the Prime Minister of the country. She needed to travel widely as part of her duties as the head of the commonwealth. Her visits were extended to other countries too and she is supposed to be the first monarch to make a tour of Germany in 1965, since the time of the World War I.
It was her duty to maintain the status of the monarchy and she worked diligently towards her goal. Prince Charles was made her successor in the year 1969 and the ceremony was attended by millions of people. Upon the pressure of Elizabeth, Prince Charles married 19-year-old Diana Spencer. The fairy tale wedding as it was widely referred, drew millions and millions of spectators.
When UK was at war with Argentina over the Falkland Island, Elizabeth’s second son Prince Andrew joined the British Royal Navy, to serve as a helicopter pilot. Though the war saw the death of more than 250 British soldiers, Prince Andrew returned home safe and sound.
Elizabeth’s life was not devoid of threats. When Elizabeth was riding her horse, Burmese, at the 1981 Trooping the Color ceremony, six shots were fired at the Queen from the crowd. However, the police later discovered that those were blank shots (as the gun was loaded with blanks). The accused Marcus Sarjeant, was given a prison term of five years. In another life threatening incident, an intruder by the name of Michael Fagan entered her room to confront her. The incident took place on 9 July 1982.
1992 was in Elizabeth’s own words ‘annus horribilis’ meaning a horrible year. A series of heartbreaking incidents took place starting with the separation of her second son Prince Andrew, Duke of York from wife Sara, Duchess of York in March; the separation of her daughter Anne, Princess Royal from her husband Captain Mark Phillips in April; the incident of egg throwing by angry protestors in Dresden in October, the outbreak of fire at Windsor Castle in November and finally the formal separation of her son Charles, Prince of Wales, from his wife Diana, Princess of Wales in December.
Another tragedy came by when Diana died following a car crash on 31 August 1997. There was intense media frenzy due to Elizabeth’s silence over Princess Diana’s death. The Queen was at the time on a holiday with her grandson and son at Balmoral. They were grieving in private at Balmoral after the incident. However, rumors became rampant that Elizabeth did not want to give Diana a public funeral. This made the Queen return to London to deliver a statement on 5 September 1997.
Golden Jubilee and After :
Though 2002 marked Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee as a Queen, it was also a year of great personal loss. She lost her sister Margaret in the month of February and within few weeks in the month of March, her mother, Queen Mary died. She was 101 years old.
Elizabeth was known to be a staunch follower of traditions and ceremonies. Though she initially did not accept the relationship between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles however, after their marriage in 2005, Elizabeth organized a reception in their honor at the Windsor Castle. As a devoted grandmother, she rendered great support when Prince William and Catherine Middleton were planning their wedding in 2011.
During her reign she put an end to the rule of male primogeniture, which implies that irrespective of the gender, the eldest child will be allowed to succeed to the throne. She succeeded in modernizing the monarchy, letting go of some of the rules and formalities. She supported the elimination of the Civil List, a public funding system of monarchy.
Diamond Jubilee and Beyond :
In the year 2012, Elizabeth celebrated 60 years as a queen. To mark her Diamond Jubilee, a grand service was held at Westminister Abbey. She was surrounded by all her family members on this special day. During the accession day she said: “In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness… I hope also that this Jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear head and warm heart” Due to her old age; some of the responsibilities have been passed on to Prince Charles, her eldest son. She is presently recognized for being the second-longest-ruling monarch of the United Kingdom and also for being the second-longest-serving current head of the state. She has no intention of resigning though part of her duties is now taken care of by her son.
On July 22, 2013 she welcomed her great grandson George Alexander Louis; the first child of Prince William and wife Kate Middleton. Her great grandson is officially known as “His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge”.
Queen Elizabeth : Facts and Information
|Full Name||Elizabeth Alexandra Mary|
|Place of Birth||17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London, United Kingdom|
|Father||King George VI|
|Religion||Church of England, Church of Scotland|
|Education||Private Education under the governess Marion Crawford|
|Spouse||Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark|
|Children||Charles, Prince of Wales
Anne, Princess Royal
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
|House||House of Windsor|
|Occupation||Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms
(6 February 1952 –present)
|Diamond Jubilee||June 2012|