Happy Birthday

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Happy Birthday, Queen Elizabeth II

April 21, 2010
by findingDulcinea Staff
In 1953, a 25-year-old princess stood within the towering walls of London’s Westminster Abbey and pledged her devotion as the “defender of the commonwealth.” Although much younger than her father had been at the time of his coronation, Elizabeth had already proven her dedication to her people through public service during World War II. For more than 50 years, the queen has exhibited the same determination, and demonstrated her loyalty to her subjects.

Queen Elizabeth’s Early Days

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Queen Elizabeth was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in London on April 21, 1926. The first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, Elizabeth’s parents made no attempts to hide her from the realities of society, as they believed it was important for her to be aware of the suffering and hardships of her people.

Leading a normal childhood became even more difficult in 1936, when Elizabeth’s father George became King George VI. This event made the 11-year-old Elizabeth next in line to the throne. The family moved into Buckingham Palace where the princess took on her role with a newfound maturity. She enrolled in classes at Eton College, focusing her studies on the history of Europe.

Elizabeth’s Notable Accomplishments

The princess assumed new responsibilities after the onset of World War II in 1939. Elizabeth joined the fight as a mechanic for the women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and rose to the rank of junior commander.

Upon her return from duty, the princess became engaged to a longtime acquaintance, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. They married in Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947. A year later, the princess gave birth to her first child, Prince Charles, followed by a daughter, Princess Anne, in 1950.

While on a state visit in Kenya in 1952, the princess received word that her father had passed away, leaving her to immediately replace him at the age of 25. She was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953.

By 1964, the royal family had two more additions, Princes Andrew and Edward. By filming royal ceremonies and appearing in a TV documentary entitled “Royal Family,” the queen was able to charm the public with the surprising normalcy of her family life.

The 1980s saw increased tabloid scrutiny of her children’s lives, and numerous IRA attacks on British soil. Though shaken, the queen maintained her dignity and attempted to focus the kingdom’s attention on humanitarian concerns. In a 1983 Christmas message, Elizabeth emphasized the responsibilities of first-world countries to aid third-world developments

During the tumultuous 1990s, the marriages of Charles, Anne and Andrew all came to very public ends. This publicity peaked with the sudden death of Princess Diana in August of 1997. Although some used the princess’ death as an opportunity to criticize the queen’s treatment of her onetime daughter-in-law, Elizabeth remained a pillar of strength for her grieving son and grandsons.

In an address to the country, Queen Elizabeth II stated that she admired Diana, and she thanked the country for the outpouring of support they showed the Royal Family after Diana's death.

The Rest of the Story

In 2002, Britons marked Elizabeth’s 50th anniversary as queen with Golden Jubilee celebrations. As the celebrations reached their height, “thousands lined the streets of Windsor, west of London, to catch a glimpse of the monarch,” reported CNN.

In 2006, during the celebration of her 80th birthday, Prince Charles stated that he would like to "thank her on behalf of all of us for the many wonderful qualities which she has brought to almost an entire lifetime of service and dedication to her country."

In her more than 50 years as the Queen of England, she has bestowed nearly 400,000 honors and awards, she is a patron of more than 600 charities and organizations, and has visited 129 countries. She continues to regin as the head of the monarchy to this day.
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