Lillibet To Queen Elizabeth II: The Extraordinary Life Of The British Monarch

In a life-altering chain of events, young Elizabeth became the heir presumptive and then the longest reigning monarch of 70 years in British history, who passed away on September 8th.

Published On Sep 09, 2022 | Updated On Mar 07, 2024


If ours is a generation that has seen its fair share of national and global upheavals, imagine a life that has witnessed some of the world’s greatest moments of the 20th and 21st centuries—that was Queen Elizabeth II. Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor on April 21, 1926, Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022, as the longest-serving British monarch. She passed away at her Scottish estate of Balmoral at the age of 96.

She is succeeded by her eldest son Charles, who is said to be officially known as King Charles III. The date for his coronation is yet to be decided.

Queen Elizabeth II reigned for 70 years, followed only by her great grandmother Queen Victoria, over her realm that included Britain, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and 14 Commonwealth nations that includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Since her ascension to the British throne in 1952, the queen witnessed major world events such as the Apollo 11 moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid, the rise in global terrorism including the 9/11 attack and most recently, the global COVID-19 pandemic.

However, you would be surprised to know that Queen Elizabeth II was never meant to ascend the throne, let alone at the young age of 25. As the daughter of the younger son of King George V, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, also known as Lillibet, was way down the pecking order for the throne. The throne, crown and the privilege of the title Your Royal Majesty were for King Edward III who ascended the throne in January 1936. By the end of the year, in a turmoil best compared to a television soap opera, King Edward III abdicated the throne. This meant that Prince Albert (Queen Elizabeth II’s father) had to take over, immediately catapulting young Elizabeth as the heir presumptive.

1. Queen Elizabeth II did not go to school. Instead, she was home-schooled by governess Marion Crawford. She was later tutored extensively by C.H.K. Marten, provost of Eton College in history and studied music and languages, courtesy of a host of visiting faculty.

2. She never had a driver’s license but was an ace driver. Her vehicle of preference was a Jaguar or Land Rover. Queen Elizabeth II also didn’t need number plates for her vehicles or even a passport.

3. For her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947, Queen Elizabeth II used post-World War II rationing coupons to purchase her wedding gown by Norman Hartnell. 

4. Elizabeth II’s marriage to Prince Philip lasted for over 73 years until he passed away in 2021. Prince Philip was the longest-serving consort of the British monarch ever, with a 69-year 62-day tenure.

5. Her official title was Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

6. Queen Elizabeth II played cameos in promotional videos. The most prominent of them is in the James Bond-themed sketch (starring Daniel Craig) for the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.

Earlier this year, as part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Queen Elizabeth II was featured in a video with the beloved character, Paddington Bear.

7. Queen Elizabeth II has seen 15 British prime ministers come and go. When she ascended the throne, it was Winston Churchill, who was born in 1874. Seventy years later, Liz Truss was sworn in as the prime minister of the UK in 2022—who was born 101 years after Churchill’s birth!

8. Queen Elizabeth II has eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren from her four children—Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

9. Her love for dogs, corgis especially is renowned. But did you know that over the years she had 30 corgi dogs? Queen Elizabeth II was also an avid equestrian who started riding at the age of three.

10. At the age of 96, Queen Elizabeth II was also the oldest ruling British queen, a record held by Guinness World Record. Her rule lasted for 70 years 214 days (6 February 1952 – 8 September 2022).

11. She was also the wealthiest queen in the world. It is reported that her net worth is approximately $500 million. She also started paying taxes to the state on her personal income in 1992.

12. The queen in her later years was known to be partial to bright and shocking colours. This was so as to allow more of her subjects to catch a glimpse of her in public events and gatherings.

As the world mourns the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, it is an opportunity to look back and see how the world has changed and the role the British monarch played in them. 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons