How long has the Queen been on the throne?

Elizabeth II’s long reign has provided stability for Britain across decades of dramatic social change

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 22 October 2021 13:08
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Queen Elizabeth II in 'good spirits' after hospital stay

Queen Elizabeth II, has returned to Windsor Castle after spending a night in hospital on Thursday following the cancellation of a trip to Northern Ireland on medical advice.

Now 95, Her Majesty is the world’s longest-reigning monarch, having been on the throne for 69 years.

The Queen ascended the throne following the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952. The then-princess was on a state visit to Kenya with her husband, Prince Philip, at the time.

The Queen was not coronated until 2 June 1953, and the ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey was a cause for huge national celebration and was a considerable novelty when it was broadcast live on television, causing friends and neighbours to crowd into each others’ living rooms to catch the excitement.

She was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary at 17 Bruton Street in central London on 21 April 1926 and christened on 29 May in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace.

The abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, so that he could marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson brought her father to the throne in 1936 and it was he who comforted the nation during the Second World War.

The king’s daughter married Greek prince Philip Mountbatten, a navy lieutenant whom she had fallen for during a visit to a naval college when she was just 13, on 20 November 1947.

Their union would last an astonishing 74 years, with Philip often characterised as her rock, bringing a streak of much-needed subversive humour into her life of stolid and uncomplaining public service up until his death on 9 April this year.

Their children are Charles, born in 1948, Anne, born in 1950, Andrew in 1960 and Edward in 1964.

Over the course of her long reign, the Queen has provided stability across decades of massive social upheaval, presiding over a Britain breaking away from the last remnants of empire to the dawning of the age of social media.

From the Suez Crisis and the cultural revolutions of the 1960s to the industrial turmoil of the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher (one of her 14 prime ministers, from Sir Winston Churchill to Boris Johnson), from the death of Princess Diana to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Queen has seen it all.

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