Profile: Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest serving monarch

Profile: Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest serving monarch

Born on April 21, 1926, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952.

In 2015, she became the longest-serving British monarch in history, even surpassing the reign of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, who sat on the throne for 63 years and seven months.

Elizabeth was also the first-ever British monarch to see the platinum anniversary, celebrating her 70 years on the throne.

She was the only female member of the royal family to join the military.

Elizabeth II was the world’s most traveled head of state, as she visited more than 110 countries, but never used a passport because she didn’t have one. She was also the only person in the UK allowed to drive without a driver’s license.

Her official visit to then West Germany in 1965 was the first German visit by a British royal family since before the outbreak of the First World War.

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Elizabeth visited Turkiye twice: once in 1971, with stops in the capital Ankara, plus Izmir, Istanbul and historic Ephesus and Cananakkale, and a shorter visit in 2008, which also included the northwestern city of Bursa.

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Marriage and controversy

On October 21, 1966, 116 children and 28 adults were killed by an avalanche of mud and water from a coal mine in the village of Aberfan in South Wales. A week later, the Queen visited the site, but was criticized because some thought she should have gone earlier.

On July 29, 1981, an estimated 750 million people in 74 countries came to see her son, Prince Charles, married to Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

In another first for a British monarch, Elizabeth visited mainland China in 1986.

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The Queen and the Royal Family were also criticized by the public after Princess Diana’s death in 1997 in a car accident in Paris. Elizabeth refused to fly the flag at half-mast over Buckingham Palace or address the grieving nation about the beloved princess.

But she soon changed her stance on the flag, greeting crowds of mourners and making a rare televised speech.

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s Longest-Serving Monarch – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Some of the international developments of major importance during the Queen’s reign include the Suez Crisis of 1956, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the Six Day War (Arab-Israeli War) of 1967, the 1969 Moon Landing, the Iranian Revolution of 1979, 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall, the 1991 rupture of the Soviet Union, 1992 Maastricht Treaty (EU Treaty), 1994 Rwandan genocide, 1994 Election of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa, September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US, 2016 Brexit vote and 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

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When Elizabeth II took the throne in 1952, the leader of the USSR was Joseph Stalin, and the US president was Harry S. Truman.

The UK saw 15 Prime Ministers under Elizabeth’s long reign, from the stately but controversial Winston Churchill to the latest Conservative leader, Liz Truss.

The 96-year-old monarch was the head of state of 15 Commonwealth countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, the Solomon Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the non-commonwealth states of Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

The views expressed in this article are the property of the author and do not necessarily reflect Middle East Monitor’s editorial policy.