The number of photographs of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch in history, may be impossible to count.
Since her father, the Duke of York, was second in line to the British throne, the Queen was well-known to the general public from the moment she was born. As a result, she was covered in the news from an early age. She probably never anticipated that one day, as the Queen of England, her image would be everywhere—on television, in newspapers, and even on coins. After all, she was never meant to be the ruler.
However, everything changed once Edward VIII abdicated on December 11, 1936. A reticent 10-year-old girl was thrust into the spotlight and became the heir apparent all of a sudden, remaining there for the following 86 years. In the midst of it all, Britain underwent a tremendous transformation, going from a vast empire to the Commonwealth of Nations and simply one of the many actors in the globe.
There were several wars, including the Iraq War, the Falklands War, and the Suez Canal Crisis. There were 10 more prime ministers in addition to Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, and Winston Churchill. Additionally, there were the Swinging Sixties, the Free Love era in the 1970s, the punk era in the 1980s, and the new century. In his book, Queen of Our Times, writer Robert Hardman quotes former prime minister Sir John Major as saying, “The Queen has been a constant in our lives.”
We take a look at Queen Elizabeth II’s extraordinary life.
Photo on the left, taken on October 9, 1926, shows Princess Elizabeth on her first outing in her baby carriage. Right image (October 9, 1938): Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret travel in a carriage with the King and Queen to a Scottish church service.
Princess Elizabeth with her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth).
In the grounds of their London residence, 145 Piccadilly, in July 1936, George, Duke of York and Princess Elizabeth were seen relaxing on a bench with their corgis.
From an early age, Elizabeth enjoyed playing with her parent’s corgis. Since becoming Queen, she has owned more than 30 corgis, starting with Susan, who she got as a birthday gift when she was 18 years old.
King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in order to wed the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, and King George VI took his place. Princess Elizabeth became the presumed heiress following his coronation.
Princess Elizabeth, who was then ten years old, with her pony.
King George VI rides horses with his daughter Princess Elizabeth.
In June 1936, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were seen with two Corgis by the windows of the Royal Welsh House.
The British Royal Family is greeted by Lord Elphinstone (left) on July 5, 1937. At Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland, from left to right: King George VI (far right), Princess Elizabeth (third from right), Princess Margaret (second from left), and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (second from left).
During World War II, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret broadcast to the young people of the British Empire.
During World War II, Princess Elizabeth swaps out the wheels on a military vehicle.
In the schoolroom of Buckingham Palace in London, Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth were painting.
The King of England’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, attends the Trooping of the Color ceremony in her father’s place.
Prince of Greece and Denmark, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, and Princess Elizabeth shortly after their engagement was declared.
On November 20, 1947, Elizabeth and Phillip were married.
On the wedding day of Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace in London, England, members of the British royal family and guests posed around them.
In November 1947, Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were on their honeymoon at Broadlands.
From Government House in Auckland, New Zealand, Queen Elizabeth II broadcasts on Christmas Day.
1951: Prince Charles and Princess Anne, along with their parents, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh
In September 1952, she was at Balmoral Castle with one of her Corgis.
Undated photo of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip.
Feb. 9, 1953: Prince Charles sits in an automobile with his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and sister, Princess Anne, left, after arriving in London by train from a six-week Christmas break at Sandringham, England.
1953: When news of her father’s passing arrived, Elizabeth, then 27 years old, and Philip were in Kenya on a tour. As Queen Elizabeth II, she continued to go by her original name. Her coronation on June 2, 1953, was the first to be shown on television.
In London’s Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned.
On June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth II entered Westminster Abbey for her coronation, accompanied by the bishops of Durham, Lord Michael Ramsay (left), and Bath and Wells, Lord Harold Bradfield. Her maids of honor carried her train.
The Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth II after the 1953 coronation on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
A picture of a young Elizabeth II in her coronation attire from June 1953, complete with the kings and queens of England’s crown.
On March 23, 1954, the Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth II arrived at Parliament House for the State Banquet in Australia. They were both wearing formal attire.
Queen Elizabeth and First Lady Jackie Kennedy
1954: Queen Elizabeth II examining a line of soldiers during her six-month Commonwealth world tour, during which she traveled by land, sea, and air to 13 different nations.
April 3, 1957: Queen Elizabeth II (center) with Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the Duke of Beaufort.
1957: As a group of onlookers looked on, Queen Elizabeth II was driving her children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, through Windsor
Princess Anne (left), Charles, Prince of Wales, and the royal family in 1960, following the birth of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. Since Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, bought Balmoral Castle in 1846, it has served as a haven for the aristocracy. In the 1850s, the 7,000 hectare estate was rebuilt. Albert made suggestions to the architect William Smith who then designed the structure. Albert decided the interior design should resemble a Highland shooting box with walls covered in trophies and weapons.
1961: During the royal tour of Sierra Leone, Elizabeth accepts a bouquet from a young girl in front of the Duke of Edinburgh and others.
In the music room at Buckingham Palace in 1964, Prince Edward, the fourth child of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, grabs the finger of his four-year-old brother, Prince Andrew.
1965: Queen Elizabeth II plays with Princes Edward and Andrew at Windsor Castle.
1966: England captain Bobby Moore receives the Jules Rimet trophy from the Queen after guiding his team to a 4-2 victory against West Germany in the first World Cup final to require overtime at Wembley Stadium in London.
The Princess Royal, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Duke of York are all pictured with Queen Elizabeth II carrying the infant Earl of Wessex.
1968: the royal family at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor
Royal Family, a BBC documentary by Richard Cawston that followed the royal family for a year, aired on June 21, 1969. The documentary sought to present a more contemporary image of the monarchy and pique the public’s interest in the institution by giving viewers unparalleled access to the family’s daily lives. Later, the documentary was outlawed by the Queen.
1969: Thousands watched a documentary that for the first time revealed the royal family while glued to their television screens. Royal Family, which provided an inside peek at the Windsor, captivated viewers all over the world.
The American astronauts of Apollo 11 who had just completed their first moonwalk are welcomed at Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth II on October 15, 1969. She is accompanied by her four Corgi dogs and has just returned from vacation at Balmoral Castle.
1969: Queen Elizabeth II gives her Christmas message at Buckingham Palace.
During her tour of Australia in May 1970, Queen Elizabeth II sees Emmet McDermott, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, at the Town Hall in Sydney. She is there to commemorate the bicentennial of Captain Cook’s journey to Australia in 1770.
During the royal family’s summer vacation in 1971, the Queen is seen riding a horse and gazing toward Scotland’s Balmoral Castle.
The royal family in 1972 at London’s Buckingham Palace. Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Edward, and Prince Charles are pictured from left to right.
Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward were present at Balmoral in 1972 along with their parents, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.
1973: Following the wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, the royal family waves from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Queen Elizabeth ll arrives at Aberdeen Airport with her corgis to start her holidays in Balmoral, Scotland in 1974.
Queen Elizabeth II posing for photographs in the Sandringham House salon. These images were captured during the royal family’s anticipated 1974 tour of Australia and New Zealand.
In November 1982, the Princess of Wales and the Queen were present during the opening of Parliament in London.
In the throne room of Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II stands for a 1977 silver jubilee photograph. A chain of beacons is lit nationwide, and more than a million people fill the streets of London in celebration.
On their wedding day in 1981, Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, wave from Buckingham Palace’s balcony.
At a state luncheon given at the De Young Museum in San Francisco in 1983, Queen Elizabeth II cracked a joke about the unfavorable California weather she had endured since arriving in the US. Ronald Reagan laughed at the remark.
After attending a national service of thanksgiving in honor of The Queen Mother’s 100th birthday in London on July 11, 2000, Queen Elizabeth and her grandchildren Prince Harry, Prince William, and Princess Margaret wait on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
As part of the celebrations for her 80th birthday on April 21, 2006, Queen Elizabeth went on a walkabout around Windsor High Street.
On the day of their wedding in 2011, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, posed for an official portrait in the throne room at Buckingham Palace with their families.
On July 10, 2018, in London, Princess Anne, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, and Queen Elizabeth II watch a flypast to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
In the White Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II strikes a pose for the camera after recording her traditional Christmas Day greeting in December 2018.
The new Mersey Gateway bridge is inaugurated in 2018 by Queen Elizabeth II and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Prince Harry and Meghan, who wed in May 2018 in Windsor, made the announcement that they would be stepping down from their royal duties in January 2020 and beginning a new life in North America.
In Piccadilly Circus, a billboard featuring Queen Elizabeth’s address concerning the 2020 coronavirus pandemic can be seen.
On April 17, 2021, Queen Elizabeth II enters St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle to take her place for Prince Philip’s funeral.
During a visit at Windsor Castle on February 16, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II interacts with the new Defense Service Secretaries, Major General Eldon Millar (R). It was her final live public performance.
At Balmoral Castle on September 6, Queen Elizabeth waits in the drawing room before welcoming freshly elected Conservative Party leader Liz Truss.