Queen Elizabeth II – a look back on her life

She passed away "peacefully" aged 96.

Queen Elizabeth II as a baby and when she is older
(Image credit: Getty)

The Queen (opens in new tab) lived a long and colourful life – not only has she broken records to become the UK’s longest-serving monarch but in 2022 she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee (opens in new tab) commemorating her 70 years on the throne.

Her Majesty the Queen has died aged 96, (opens in new tab) Buckingham Palace have confirmed. Even in her later years, the Queen displayed a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ mantra, shown when even at 96 she refused to sit back and kept working – even if it be from her Windsor Palace home via Zoom.

Her Majesty made history on 6th September 2022 when she officially appointed the 15th Prime Minister Liz Truss at Balmoral and not London - breaking the life-long tradition for the official 'Kissing hands' ceremony due to her health and mobility issues.

Her wavering health slowed down the number of official engagements she could conduct, after contracting Covid in early 2022 her Majesty admitted she felt exhausted following her health scare and suffered from episodic mobility (opens in new tab).

But despite missing some of the bumper weekend celebrations she stood on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with tears in her eyes (opens in new tab) when she was met with a warm reception from thousands of supporters to mark the end of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

While many will wonder where will the Queen be buried? others want to know what will happen when the Queen dies?

And as we remember the Queen’s long life and tremendous reign, we look back on her time as wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and monarch…

Queen Elizabeth II – a look back on her life

Queen Elizabeth’s childhood

Queen Elizabeth was born into royalty on 21st April 1926 as the daughter of the second son of King George V (previously known as Prince Albert) and was named Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. She spent her early childhood with her sister Princess Margaret living in a large house in London. She is also a descendant of Queen Victoria.

Unlike other children their age, Elizabeth and Margaret did not attend school, instead they were taught lessons at home by a governess Marion Crawford and supervised by her mother Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

Queen Elizabeth II with her mum the Queen Mother and sister Princess Margaret

(Image credit: Getty)

Elizabeth has lessons in history by C.H.K. Marten, afterward a provost of Eton College, and had instruction from visiting teachers in music and languages.

But during World War II she and her sister spent much of their time safely away from the London blitz and separated from their parents, living mostly at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and at the Royal Lodge, Windsor, and Windsor Castle.

Young Elizabeth’s life completely changed when her father was crowned King George VI after her uncle Edward VIII abdicated in 1936 (subsequently becoming the duke of Windsor) and she became heir presumptive. She wasn’t even due to be Queen as her father’s brother Edward was originally next in line and was also expected to produce an heir but Elizabeth assumed the title of Queen upon her father’s death in 1952.

It’s understood that as a child, the Queen made a heartbreaking wish to change her life (opens in new tab) to avoid becoming Queen.

And as the monarch, the Queen has two birthdays (opens in new tab).

Queen and Prince Philip's wedding

Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip on 20th November 1947  and their lavish ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey in London. Philip Mountbatten was her distant cousin and they first met as children (opens in new tab) in 1934 when Elizabeth was just eight years old. She had been invited to the wedding of Philip’s cousin Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark as she was marrying Elizabeth’s uncle Prince George, Duke of Kent.

But it was five years later (1939) when the young lovers crossed paths again – Elizabeth was 13 and Philip was 18 – and they met at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. It’s reported that this was when Elizabeth fell in love with her future husband and the pair started exchanging letters before Philip finally took it upon himself to follow tradition and ask King George VI for his daughter’s hand in marriage in 1946.

Their engagement was officially announced on 9 July 1947 and four months later their wedding was broadcast around the world via radio.

The Queen was aged 21 when they married. The Abbey was the same place the Queen’s parents had married and the Queen became the 10th member of the Royal Family to get wed there.

On the eve of the wedding her father, the king, conferred upon the bridegroom the titles of Duke of Edinburgh, earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich. They then took residence at Clarence House in London.

Following their wedding, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip slept in separate beds. Etiquette expert Lady Pam and Her Majesty’s cousin explained in a biography about her relative, “In England, the upper class always have had separate bedrooms. You don’t want to be bothered with snoring or someone flinging a leg around.”

The Queen and Prince Philip had been married 73 years (opens in new tab) up until Prince Philip’s death (opens in new tab) in 2021. The Queen admitted to her son Prince Andrew at the time that his death had left a “huge void” in her life. The Duke of York said the Queen had “described his passing as a miracle”, thought to refer to the fact Prince Philip died peacefully at home with her and not alone in hospital under Covid regulations.

The Queen has her beloved Dorgi’s (opens in new tab) for company.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on the Buckingham Palace balcony on their wedding day

(Image credit: Getty)

The Queen’s coronation

The Queen’s coronation (opens in new tab) was held on 2nd June 1953 at Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth II was just aged 25 when she acceded to the throne upon the death of her father, George VI, on 6 February 1952, being proclaimed queen by her privy and executive councils shortly afterwards.

The coronation was delayed by 16 months because of the tradition of allowing an appropriate length of time to pass after a monarch dies before holding such ceremonies.

The coronation itself was groundbreaking because it was the first-ever to be televised and it was watched by 27 million people in the UK alone and millions more audiences around the world.

A celebration banquet followed the service and included a chicken dish now known as coronation chicken.

The Queen’s crown weighs 2.3lbs and the Queen once joked, “You can’t look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up.” Because if you did, your neck would break – it would fall off. “So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they’re quite important things,” she added.

A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

The Queen's children

The Queen and the late Prince Philip shared four children together. She became a mother following the birth of her son Prince Charles - born Charles Philip Arthur George. He was born November 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace and is her heir apparent in royal succession (opens in new tab).

The Princess Royal, Princess Anne followed in 1950, born 15 August. She remains the Queen's only daughter.

10 years later, Prince Andrew was born on 19 February 1960. Her youngest child and third son Prince Edward arrived 10 March 1964 at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Prince Charles

(Image credit: Getty)

The Queen's grandchildren

The Queen's extensive family includes eight grandchildren Prince William, Prince Harry, Zara Phillips, Peter Phillips, Princess Eugenie, Princess Beatrice, Lady Louise Windsor and James Viscount Severn.

Prince Harry is the only grandchild who lives abroad in LA (opens in new tab) with his wife Meghan Markle and their two children. Meanwhile his older brother, Prince William, moved to Windsor (opens in new tab) in August 2022 to be nearer the Queen with his wife Kate Middleton and their three children.

Zara Philips (Princess Anne's daughter) is married to former rugby star Mike Tindall and has three children. Whilst Anne's son Peter Philips announced his separation from wife Autumn Phillips in February 2020 and finalised their divorce (opens in new tab) in June 2021. They however put on a united front attending the Platinum Party at the Palace for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee with their two children Isla and Savannah.

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie - the daughters of Prince Andrew - have celebrated many life achievements in the last few years. Princess Eugenie welcomed son August (opens in new tab) in February 2021. Meanwhile Princess Beatrice wed (opens in new tab) her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi (opens in new tab) in 2020 and became a mother to a baby girl (opens in new tab)in September 2021.

The Queen's two youngest grandchildren Lady Louise Windsor and James Viscount Severn are yet to find love but Lady Louise has started studying English at St Andrew's University (opens in new tab). Prince Andrew and his wife Sophie Wessex are their parents.

The Queen and her grandchildren

(Image credit: Getty)

The Queen's great-grandchildren

And as of 2022 she is great-grandmother to 12 great-grandchildren (opens in new tab). Her first great grandchild was Savanna Phillips - the daughter of the Queen's grandson Peter Phillips and she is the eldest. 

Next is her sister Isla Phillips, followed by Prince George, Mia Tindall, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Lena Tindall, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, then August Brooksbank, Lucas Tindall, Lilbet-Diana, and finally Sienna Mapelli-Mozzi is the youngest.

The Queen had a photo taken with some of her great-grandchildren but some are missing from the photograph as they were either not in the country at the time it was taken or not yet born.

A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

The Queen's Silver Jubilee

The Queen's Silver jubilee was celebrated on 6th February 1977 and saw a large scale celebration of parties and parades throughout the UK and Commonwealth, with the official jubilee days culminated in June. 

At the time, Queen Elizabeth became a record setter - having travelled to the most parts of the UK in such a short space of time - visiting 36 counties in just three months with her husband Prince Philip.

Queen silver jubilee

(Image credit: Getty)

Queen's Golden Jubilee

Marking 50 years on the throne the Queen celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2002. It saw the country celebrate her accession and consisted of a nationwide royal tour and a star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace. It was the first time the Buckingham Palace grounds were open to the public for the free pop concert.

Back in January 2022 a photo was released of Queen Elizabeth II looking at Queen Victoria's Autograph fan, alongside a display of memorabilia from her Golden and Platinum Jubilees, in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle, west of London.

Queen looks back at golden jubilee

(Image credit: Getty)

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

19 May 2012 marked the Queen's spectacular Diamond Jubilee weekend - which recognises 60 years on the throne. Her Majesty and her husband Prince Philip embarked on a UK-wide tour for the special occasion. Whilst fellow Royal Firm (opens in new tab) members paid a visit overseas to Commonwealth countries:  Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea.

As was the case with the Golden Jubilee, a party at Buckingham Palace took place featuring performances from Gary Barlow, Will.i.am, Stevie Wonder, Grace Jones and Kylie Minogue.

More ceremonial events included the 'Muster' put on 2,500 troops within the Armed Forces. The Queen had a front row set to this, which took place at Windsor Castle.

The Queen and Prince Philip's 73rd Wedding Anniversary

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh celebrated 73 years of marriage together in November 2020. This anniversary proved to the couple's last together, with Prince Philip passing in April 2021. 

To mark the special achievement, a new photograph was released (opens in new tab) of the couple. Shot in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle, it shows the two opening a card signed from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. 

Her Majesty and Prince Philip similarly marked their 70th wedding anniversary with a new portrait released in 2017.

A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee kicked off on Friday 3 June this year. People delighted in the news that the UK would be given an extra bank holiday (opens in new tab) to mark the milestone and bars and pubs were allowed to open longer (opens in new tab) to enable Brits to celebrate into the early hours. Among the key events were a birthday parade, a special thanksgiving ceremony held at St Paul's Cathedral, a Platinum Party at the Palace and a pageant rounded off the celebrations.

But the Queen's wavering health meant she had to select which events she wanted to attend, so that she could spend some of the weekend resting. It meant that she was forced to pull out of the service at St. Pauls which was attended by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. She also missed attending Epsom Derby and the Platinum Party at the Palace - having to watch it on the TV at home in Windsor instead.

But she stood proudly on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Pageant to mark the finale of the celebrations. The Queen was joined by Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, Prince William and Kate Middleton and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

She sent a message of thanks to mark her 70th year on the throne, it read, "Thank you to everyone who has been involved in convening communities, families, neighbours and friends to mark my Platinum Jubilee, in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth. I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions.

"I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last seventy years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.

ELIZABETH R."

And not one to disappoint, the Queen brought joy to many when she teamed up with Paddington Bear for a comedy sketch - an iconic scene which is tipped for a BAFTA (opens in new tab).

The Queen's interests

The Queen was known for having a life long passion for animals - particularly for horses and her pet corgis (opens in new tab).

Over her lifetime, Her Majesty is said to have owned 30 dogs during her 70 year reign. Most recently she welcomed new dog Lissy in January 2022 (opens in new tab) - though in a break from tradition - Lissy is a cocker spaniel and not a corgi or dorgi.

Nevertheless, the corgis are a symbol synonymous with the Queen, with Princess Diana once famously dubbing the royal dogs as “a moving carpet” that followed the monarch around everywhere.

A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

As for her love of horses - Her Majesty will be remembered as a keen horse rider and  avid watcher of horse races. Known as her 'favourite hobby' (opens in new tab) - some have joked that the pastime has come with quite the price tag. Royal finance expert David McClure once said, “This is quite an expensive hobby, at one stage she had about a strong of about 20 thoroughbred horses, she had three studs, she had stables. It was estimated in around 2000, it was costing about £600,000 a year just to run that.”

Video of the Week: