Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State of the United Kingdom, Head of the Commonwealth and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Her reign began on the 6th February 1952. Queen Elizabeth II is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, beating Queen Victoria‘s record of 63 years and seven months on the throne. In 2017 she celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee (65 years on the throne), the first British monarch to do so.
Queen Elizabeth II is a constitutional monarch. This means that she is Head of State of the UK and the Commonwealth and of the Established Church but that political power is vested in Parliament. The decision to draft and implement laws lies with the elected government. The Queen is not involved with party politics.
The Queen represents the British people as a ceremonial leader and plays an important part as a traditional figurehead. As a popular monarch the Queen has enjoyed much public support over the years with events celebrating her Jubilee Anniversaries and the weddings of her children and grandchildren attracting vast crowds.
The Queen is a very wealthy woman but much of her property is held on trust which means she cannot sell it. She is involved with many charitable organisations as a patron.
The pomp and pageantry associated with the monarchy is a major attraction for tourists and brings revenue into the United Kingdom.
The traditional forms of greeting the Queen are:
- For men, a neck bow (from the head only); women do a small curtsy. Shaking hands is also acceptable!
- If you are presented to the Queen, she should be formally addressed as ‘Your Majesty’ and subsequently ‘Ma’am’.
Since 1917, British people celebrating notable birthdays and anniversaries have received a message from the King or Queen. Cards are sent to people celebrating their 100th and 105th birthday (and every year after that), and to those celebrating their diamond wedding (60th), 65th, 70th wedding anniversaries. The Queen’s congratulatory message is a card with a personalised message, in a special envelope, delivered through the post.
- The Queen was the elder daughter of Prince Albert, the Duke of York and his wife (Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon). She had a younger sister called Margaret Rose.
- Following the death of her grandfather King George V in January 1936, Elizabeth’s uncle David became the new King Edward VIII. In December 1936 Edward abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. Prince Albert became King George VI and the young Princess Elizabeth became heir presumptive to the throne.
- The Queen married Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.
- The Queen heard of the death of her father whilst she was on tour in Kenya. Her Coronation was held at Westminster Abbey on the 2 June 1953.
- She has four children – Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Andrew, Duke of York and Edward, Earl of Wessex. She also has eight grandchildren and a growing number of great grandchildren.
- 1992 was a difficult year for the Queen, who called it her annus horribilis. Windsor Castle caught fire and the marriages of her three eldest children foundered.
- In June 2012 the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee – 60 years on the throne.
- The Queen is the constitutional monarch, that is the non-party-political head of state, of 16 of the 53 Commonwealth nations. These countries include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica.
- There have been 12 Prime Ministers during her reign. The first of these was Sir Winston Churchill.
- As Head of State the Queen formally opens each new parliamentary session.
- The Queen was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor on April 21 1926.
- In 1936 there were three kings of England.
- Princess Elizabeth first met Prince Philip when she was only thirteen.
- During WWII Princess Elizabeth joined the Womens Auxilliary Territorial Service and trained as a driver.
- The Queen is well known for her love of dogs called corgis and is also a keen horse enthusiast. Her first corgi was acquired by the family in 1933 and named Dookie.
- Queen Victoria was the great great grandmother of the Queen. At the time of her death Victoria had been Queen for 63 years and 216 days, but as of September 2015 Queen Elizabeth II holds the record for Britain’s longest-serving monarch.