Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Life of a Queen; the Queen Is Only the Second Monarch in British History to Celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. ABIGAIL JACKSON Looks Back at the Highs and Lows of Elizabeth II's Momentous Six Decade Reign

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Life of a Queen; the Queen Is Only the Second Monarch in British History to Celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. ABIGAIL JACKSON Looks Back at the Highs and Lows of Elizabeth II's Momentous Six Decade Reign

Article excerpt

AS the nation prepares to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, the Queen is as popular as ever.

And it's no surprise - along with her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, Elizabeth II is only the second monarch in British history to reach 60 years on the throne.

It's easy to forget that, had it not been for a scandalous twist of fate - when her uncle fell in love with American socialite Wallis Simpson - Elizabeth would never have become Queen at all.

King Edward VIII had reigned for less than a year, when he abdicated in 1936 to marry Simpson, and as a result Elizabeth's father became King, changing the course of the young princess's life forever. Today, Queen Elizabeth II is such an iconic part of our cultural identity, that it is hard to imagine Britain without her. Here is a look back at her extraordinary life..

THE EARLY YEARS Born at 2.40am on April 21, 1926, at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was the first child of the then Duke and Duchess of York.

In August 1930, Princess Margaret was born and, aged four, Elizabeth became a big sister. They spent most of their time with Marion Crawford, known as Crawfie, their nanny for 17 years.

Young Elizabeth's biggest joy was animals. Horses were to become a life-long passion, and in her teens she entered and won a string of contests.

At 18, her parents gave her Susan - her very first Corgi.

By her teenage years, Elizabeth knew that her destiny had taken a different course - she was 10 when her father became King - and from then on, the young princess was groomed for her role as probable future Queen.

Wartime was spent in safety at Windsor Castle while her father and mother ventured to Buckingham Palace and endured bombing raids like the rest of the capital. But keen to do her bit, at 18, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), and became No. 230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, training as a driver and mechanic, above, before being promoted to Junior Commander.

ROYAL ROMANCE Inheriting the throne still seemed a long way off - at this stage Elizabeth had other things on her mind, such as falling in love with her handsome distant cousin, Prince Philip of Greece.

Elizabeth married Philip at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947 - a welcome boost for weary post-war Britain. The early years of marriage were a happy time for the then Princess Elizabeth. In November 1948, aged 22, she became a mother, with the birth of her first son, Charles, followed by Ann, in 1950. Her life became almost normal - with Philip serving in the Navy, living in Malta for several stages between 1949 and 1951, she went to the local hairdressers, and parties and picnics with fellow Navy wives.

BECOMING QUEEN By now, her father's health was failing and Elizabeth was needed back in Britain.

The King spent many hours giving her advice and she began standing in for him at official engagements. On the eve of Elizabeth and Philip's departure to Kenya, the King took his family on an outing to the theatre. A week later, on February 6, 1952, George VI died aged 56.

Elizabeth II's coronation, above, took place the following year, on June 2, 1953.

TV cameras were brought into Westminster Abbey so the historic event could be broadcast to some 27 million people across Britain. And of course, Elizabeth II took to the famous palace balcony with her young family, to greet the excited public as their Queen for the first time. …

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