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Queen Elizabeth II – 70 years of service

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne since she was 25 – an ever-present figure in most people’s lives in the UK, as well as one of the most recognizable people in the world.

Now 96, difficulties walking and standing have further dented her dwindling number of public appearances in recent years.

His eldest son and heir Prince Charles, 73, has gradually taken on more responsibility to prepare him for when he takes over.

But she still regularly hosts foreign dignitaries and diplomats and according to those who know her, she stays sharp as a nail.

The death in April last year of her 73-year-old husband Prince Philip inevitably affected her deeply and she was seen as a loner at his funeral, which was held under coronavirus restrictions.

His popularity with the public has remained consistently high, although deference has waned and attitudes have changed towards the monarchy over the decades.

calls of duty

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in London on April 21, 1926 and only became queen by an accident of history.

Her father became King George VI in 1936 when his older brother Edward VIII abdicated to marry twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson. This made Princess “Lilibet” the heir to the throne.

As German bombs rained down on London during World War II, she and her younger sister Margaret were evacuated to Windsor.

At the age of 19, she became an army mechanic and driver on the home front, endearing herself to the British for her role in the war effort.

At 21, she married Philip Mountbatten, the son of a Greek prince, in a ceremony that brought a touch of glamor to austere post-war Britain.

The couple were in Kenya on February 6, 1952, when news reached them of her father’s death, making her the new monarch.

She immediately returned to Britain and on June 2, 1953, she was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Currently, she is Head of State in the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth countries.

70 years on the throne: key dates

State Visit to Ireland 2011

The Queen’s high-profile visit to Ireland was the first by a British monarch since the Republic of Ireland gained independence in 1922.

An address in Irish, along with other symbolic gestures, helped galvanize reconciliation and cement the peace process in Northern Ireland after years of conflict over British rule.

In 1993, President Mary Robinson met the Queen in London for the first meeting between Irish and British Heads of State.

Irish President Mary Robinson and Queen Elizabeth II outside Buckingham Palace (Photo: RollingNews)

rock of stability

Elizabeth spent an unscheduled night in hospital last October after undergoing unspecified tests.

Doctors have since advised him to rest and reduce his workload.

For help in carrying out her duties, she turned to her immediate family, but without two notable members – second son Prince Andrew and grandson Harry.

Andrew, often seen as her favorite son, was stripped of his royal duties due to his links to convicted sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Harry left royal life in 2020 and moved to the United States, from where he and his wife Meghan accused the family of racism.

Over the decades, the Queen has been seen as a rock of stability in the turbulence of royal life.

In 1992 – a year she called him “annus horribilis” – three of her four children separated from their partners and Windsor Castle caught fire.

But she was criticized in 1997 for misjudging the public mood after Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris, initially refusing to return to London and fly the flag at half-mast over Buckingham Palace.

Although she makes a taped televised address every Christmas Day, she has never given an interview and is careful not to divulge her personal opinions.

As the head of a constitutional monarchy, she is politically neutral, and her weekly private talks with the prime minister of the day on current issues remain just that – private.

Jubilees chronicle the changing times in Britain

Queen Elizabeth II, pictured last month

Queen Elizabeth II is the only British monarch to celebrate 70 years on the throne.

Its 1977 Silver Jubilee festivities saw nationwide communal street parties.

Around a million people flocked to central London to see the monarch in a carriage procession and she and her husband Prince Philip traveled around 90,100km, visiting Commonwealth countries around the world.

Street parties were again featured on a four-day weekend in June 2002 for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

A pop concert in the garden of Buckingham Palace in front of 12,000 people was capped off by Queen guitarist Brian May playing the national anthem on the roof, as a million people filled the streets outside.

As well as a three-month tour of Britain, the Queen has also visited Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

The 2012 Jubilee took place the same year that London hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The June 2-5 celebrations saw a river show, lit lighthouses, a service of thanksgiving and a pop concert.

Around 1.2 million people lined the banks to watch the largest flotilla on the Thames in 350 years.

An estimated 8.5 million people took part in the Big Jubilee Lunch rallies, which replaced street parties.

Queen Elizabeth II: record holder

Queen Elizabeth II hosts Prime Minister James Callaghan and French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing for lunch at Windsor Castle in December 1977

Queen Elizabeth II has passed a number of milestones during her record 70 years on the throne.

Globetrotter

The Queen has traveled to more than 100 countries since 1952 – another record for a British monarch – and has made more than 150 visits to Commonwealth countries.

She has been to Canada 22 times – more than any other country.

The Daily Telegraph calculated that she had traveled the equivalent of 42 times around the world before stopping her overseas travels in November 2015 at the age of 89.

Busy

As Queen, Elizabeth II carried out some 21,000 engagements, gave royal assent to 4,000 pieces of legislation and hosted 112 state visits from foreign heads of state.

Over 180 garden parties have been held at Buckingham Palace, attended by over 1.5 million people.

Cards

The Queen has sent some 300,000 congratulatory cards to centenarians and more than 900,000 to couples celebrating 60 years of marriage.

She was married for 73 years – another record for a British monarch. Her husband Prince Philip died aged 99 in April last year.

Portraits

The Queen has posed for more than 200 portraits since she was seven years old. Most were painted in a traditional style.

Pioneer

In 1996, the Queen became the first British monarch to visit mainland China in 1991.

She was also the first to address the House of Representatives in Washington.

Longevity

At 96, Elizabeth is the world’s oldest current monarch and head of state.

Only two kings have reigned longer: French Louis XIV – more than 72 years between 1643 and 1715 – and Thai Bhumibol Adulyadej – 70 years and four months, until his death in October 2016.