Born on April 21 1926 during the reign of her grandfather, King George V, Elizabeth Windsor is third in line to the throne, but this is soon to change.
When King George V dies in 1936, his eldest son Edward ascends the throne as King Edward VIII. Later that year, however, Edward VIII expresses his desire to marry American socialite and divorcee, Wallis Simpson. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin advises the king that the political and religious fallout triggered by such a move would be incredibly damaging to the monarchy, but Edward remains steadfast in his commitment to Simpson. He therefore takes the decision to abdicate the throne in order to marry Mrs. Simpson, to save the constitutional crisis that would have ensued had he acted against the wishes of parliament (which would have required the government to resign). Upon Edward’s abdication, his brother George (Elizabeth’s father) takes the throne as King George VI and Elizabeth is now heir presumptive.
As her father’s health declines throughout 1951, Elizabeth takes on additional responsibilities including standing in for the King during public engagements. These duties extend to a 1951 tour of the US and Canada, as well as a 1952 tour of Australia and New Zealand via Kenya, which Elizabeth embarks on with her husband, Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. During the second tour, Elizabeth learns of the death of her father, the king, and is proclaimed as the new monarch with immediate effect. The royal tour is cut short and Queen Elizabeth II returns to the UK, moving into the royal family’s official London residence, Buckingham Palace.
The royal house of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip retains the Windsor name, in line with the wishes of Elizabeth’s grandmother, Queen Mary, and the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
Queen Elizabeth continues to prove a popular figure, despite tumultuous periods of her reign – the longest in the history of the British royal family.