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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926 and is the eldest daughter of her predecessor George.
1952 To Present
She was married at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947 to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice.
Queen Elizabeth has four children: Charles who is heir to the throne, Anne, Andrew and Edward.
The Queen's ancestors can be traced back to the pre-Norman kings of the early centuries. Princess Elizabeth had a traditional royal childhood, she did not attend school but was tutored at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle by private tutors including Queen Mary,who taught her much about constitutional law and the role of the monarch.
Whilst not excelling at academic subjects, Elizabeth developed an early interest in the arts and sport, especially in horse riding which she enjoys to this day. Princess Elizabeth's teenage years were dominated by the Second World War. Like many London children she spent much of the war in the countryside to escape the nightly bombing raids, (general public opinion at the time was that the two princesses had been evacuated to the safety of North America, although they never actually left Britain throughout the war). Towards the end of the war Elizabeth became a junior officer in the army and learned the un-Queenly trade of an army driver and mechanic.
In 1947 she went to South Africa on her first official tour and in that year married Prince Philip of Greece. When Elizabeth was 25, her father King George VI died of lung cancer. In a coronation service at Westminster Abbey in June 1953, Elizabeth became Queen. At her request the service was broadcast live and millions of people huddled into crowded living rooms to watch the service on television.
Queen Elizabeth II has proved to be a highly adaptable and able monarch. Her reign has overseen great change in Britain and the world as a whole. Britain has surrendered its empire and granted independence to the countries it once ruled.
The Queen no longer carries the Latin title Regina et Imperatrix, 'Queen and Emperor', used by previous monarchs. In place of the empire is now the Commonwealth, a collection of former colonial countries which operates as a miniature 'united nations', assisting to secure peace and economic co-operation between independent states. As society has changed since the end of the last war, so too has some of the mystique been removed from the royal family. They now have to pay tax on their income and estates, Buckingham Palace is open to the public, and most of the world seems to know the intimate details of once very private lives.
The Queen has weathered the storm of the press, public opinion and constitutional change and is now head to a more open and modern monarchy. The monarchy, or 'the firm' as the Queen calls it, is still extremely deeply entrenched in British society and remains enormously popular.
Queen Elizabeth II will be remembered as the monarch who steered a great segment of British tradition and history from the old style reign of George VI to the much more contemporary - and awaiting - King Charles III.