Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne: key dates

Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-serving monarch in British history and this year celebrates her 70th year on the throne.

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, the Queen Mother.

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 vehicle 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 of 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.

1977: Silver Jubilee

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, 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 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, help 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, 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. Four days of celebrations are planned for early June.

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