Queen Elizabeth II turned 96 on Thursday. Here are some of the key moments in her life.
– 1926: Royal birth –
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor is born at 2:40 am on April 21, 1926 in Mayfair, central London. She is the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, who will become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
– 1940: Move to Windsor –
As Nazi Germany bombs the British capital, Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, move to Windsor Castle, west of London, for their safety.
During World War II, she trains as a military auto-mechanic.
– 1947: Marriage and family –
Princess Elizabeth marries Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey.
Their first child, Prince Charles, is born in 1948. A daughter, Anne, arrives in 1950, followed by Andrew in 1960 and Edward in 1964.
– 1952: Princess to Queen –
Princess Elizabeth, then aged 25, is visiting Kenya with Philip when her father dies aged 56 on February 6, 1952.
She cuts short the trip and rushes back to Britain.
– 1953: The coronation –
She is crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, in front of 8,500 assembled guests.
The ceremony is watched across the world and leads to a surge in sales for television sets.
– 1977: Silver Jubilee –
The queen reaffirms the vow of lifelong service to Britain and the Commonwealth she had made in a speech aged 21 in 1947.
She tours the country and the Commonwealth. Celebratory street parties brighten the economic gloom of industrial decline and strikes at home.
– 1992: ´Annus horribilis´ –
Prince Charles separates from Princess Diana, and Andrew splits from his wife, Sarah.
The queen´s only daughter, Princess Anne, divorces her husband, Mark Phillips. Windsor Castle is also seriously damaged by fire.
The queen calls the 12 months her “annus horribilis”.
– 1997: Death of Diana –
Diana´s death in a car crash on August 31, 1997 rocks the royal family to the core, provoking rare criticism of the queen for continuing to stay at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.
She eventually returns to Buckingham Palace, where the Union Jack is lowered to half-mast, and she makes a televised tribute to Diana, helping to calm public anger.
– 2002: Golden Jubilee –
Celebrations for the queen´s 50 years on the throne come in the same year as the deaths of her own mother and younger sister Margaret, and show public support for the monarchy.
Huge crowds gather on The Mall in central London to watch Queen guitarist Brian May play the national anthem from the roof of Buckingham Palace before a star-studded pop concert.
– 2011: Ireland state visit –
The queen´s high-profile visit to Ireland is the first by a British monarch since the Republic of Ireland won independence in 1922.
An address in Irish, plus other symbolic gestures, helps galvanise reconciliation and cement the peace process in Northern Ireland, after years of conflict over British rule.
– 2012: Olympics and Diamond Jubilee –
The queen and other senior royals visit every region of Britain to mark her 60 years on the throne. Beacons are lit across the country, and a river pageant is held in London.
A surprise cameo for the monarch alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig is a hit at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.
– 2021: Covid, Philip, health fears –
The coronavirus pandemic forces the ageing queen into self-isolation at Windsor, from where she makes public appearances over video conference.
Prince Philip dies aged 99 in April 2021, while later that year fears grow for the queen´s own health after she spends a night in hospital and is forced to cut back her duties.
– 2022: Platinum Jubilee –
On February 6, she becomes the first monarch in British history to rule for 70 years. Two weeks later, she tests positive for Covid-19 but with only “mild” symptoms before returning to work in March.