Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Queen at 90: a life in pictures

One lifetime, ten special images. As the Queen turns 90, here are the photos that tell the story of a girl born to be a princess who ended up being the longest reigning monarch in British history. And what a story it is. On this historic day, here is the Queen's life in pictures.

Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Queen and consort, on the day of her coronation, June 2nd 1953.
This impressive portrait by Beaton shows the majesty of the event and the youth of a monarch who took the throne far earlier than she ever imagined and who was now at the start of a reign made for the history books

Father and daughter, king and queen in waiting. This black and white image from the late 1920s shows a young Princess Elizabeth of York with her father, then Duke of York. The Queen's close relationship with her parents and sister laid the foundations for a strong, happy life. When this photo was taken neither of them could ever have imagined they would rule and yet within a few years, it was their family that wore the Crown. This is the beginning of a dynasty.

Elizabeth was a wartime princess, growing up in the shadow of the conflict that threatened Europe for so long. When World War Two broke out, her family's decision to stay in London won huge admiration and Princess Elizabeth joined the ATS and played her part. On VE Day she appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in one of the most famous photos ever taken of royalty. It remains an enduring image.

The Queen said of Prince Philip that he is 'simply, my rock'. He has been at her side for seventy years, through good and hard times, and never wavered in his support. They married on November 20th 1947 on a day that was all about lifting spirits and enjoying life after the long, hard years of World War Two. Elizabeth was a beautiful bride with a handsome groom and a happy marriage ahead of her.

Elizabeth became Queen on February 6th 1952 on the death of her father. She was in Kenya and flew back in mourning. The image of her, all in black, walking down the steps of a plane towards her destiny never stops being moving. This is a woman grieving for her beloved parent while the world watch her take on an historic role. 

Elizabeth the Queen is also a mother and her family was completed in March 1964 when she gave birth to her third son, Edward, who joined Charles, Anne and Andrew as part of this regal crew. This photo from 1969 shoes them at home in each other's company. A modern royal family.

There have been many landmark moments in the Queen's reign but the first high profile one was her Silver Jubilee which was celebrated in 1977. It was the first time in forty years the country had had a Jubilee and celebrations took over with street parties, official services and a Buckingham Palace balcony appearance. This original Jubilee remains a highlight.

For much of her reign and her life, the Queen could count on the support of her mother and her sister. The loss of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret within weeks of each other in 2002 was a huge blow but true to her sense of duty, the Queen carried on. This iconic image of the three royal women, taken to mark the Queen Mother's 80th birthday, remains an iconic royal image 35 years after it was taken.

And so to the future. Not only has Elizabeth II broken records and carved her name in the history book, she has also become a very rare monarch indeed - one who can see a line of succession stretching away from her over three generations. The birth of Prince George of Cambridge in 2013 cemented her dynasty and ensured her line will rule until at least the 22nd century. That is another achievement to add to the many that belong to Elizabeth II on her 90th birthday.

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