The life of Queen Elizabeth I is a tale of great sorrow and great triumph. Not only did she hold the throne at an age when most people are just figuring out what they want to do with their lives, but she had to overcome more than her fair share of personal struggles—not least of which was the execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn. This blog will take you through Queen Elizabeth in her early years in England, as well as her extraordinary reign on the throne. You won’t want to miss this fascinating look at one of history’s most notable monarchs!
Born as Princess Elizabeth on April 21, 1926, Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth was born at 17 Bruton Street in London. She was the second daughter of His Royal Highness Prince Albert, Duke of York (the future King George VI), and Her Royal Highness Duchess Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She had an older sister, Margaret Rose, with whom she often played when they were young girls. They grew up with four dogs and many other pets. They loved horseback riding which became a lifelong passion for them both. In 1935, her father was proclaimed king after his brother abdicated. When World War II broke out in 1939, her parents tried to keep her safe from harm by moving their family away from London to Balmoral Castle in Scotland where they lived until 1945.
Queen Elizabeth: Becoming a Young Woman
She is often criticized for being an out-of-touch, old queen. But she became a young woman and grew up in a different time. She experienced what it was like to be next in line for the throne at a very young age and never had the chance to lead her own life. Although her husband Prince Philip is not seen much by the public, he has been reported as being something of a stabilizing force in her life. And she loves him deeply. They have four children together and even though their son Edward will one day become king, they still show him love because that’s what all parents should do with their children.
World War II
After the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, she succeeded to the throne on February 6, 1952, at age 25. She reigned for over six decades and was widely seen as a person who responded well in a crisis. For example, she gained an unwanted reputation as the queen who never smiles because she rarely showed any emotion; but after that, a photographer told her he would stop taking photos if she didn’t smile and so she did.
Queen Elizabeth: Marriage and Succession
Her marriage to Philip proved a happy and successful union. It was not just that the couple was devoted to each other, but Philip had a calming effect on her which helped alleviate some of her insecurities. Their happy and united household provided an example for the nation. They had four children together – Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward – who all became monarchs in their turn. However, tragedy struck when Edward died at the age of 16 from pneumonia (so-called tuberculosis or consumption). Despite this setback, Elizabeth remained committed to her duty as sovereign with support from her family and trusted advisers like William Cecil.
I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.
Life as a Military Wife
For over 40 years, Prince Philip was away from home serving the Commonwealth, in places such as Malta and the Suez Canal. His wife Elizabeth patiently waited for him with her young children, Charles and Anne. Eventually, she became a military wife, accompanying Philip on his visits overseas when she could not be at home. She never complained about this because it was what he had wanted. However, she would worry about how their four children were coping without them during these long absences.
Unexpected Royal Motherhood
On April 20, 1926, George V died and his eldest son became king. But because British law prohibited a woman from sitting on the throne, Parliament needed to make an exception for Mary. This exception was made by passing the Succession to the Crown Act on March 27th, 2013- this act declared that regardless of sex, heirs would have precedence over older generations if there were no more heirs of that gender in the same generation.
Before Queen Elizabeth came into power, women had virtually no rights in the English government. Wives could not own property, enter contracts, or make wills. But this all changed when she took the throne. One of her first acts as queen was reforming laws around divorce so that men and women were treated equally. She also appointed a woman, Katherine Hamlet, as an official part of the Privy Council—a group that advises the monarch on policy decisions. She banned female executions for treason, a right granted only to men. And most importantly for many of her subjects—especially women—Queen Elizabeth married off one of her daughters at a young age because it would be easier for him to inherit the crown if he married an Englishwoman instead of marrying someone from abroad like Spain or France.
Queen Elizabeth: Last Decades
In the late 1940s, she began to suffer from heart problems and went through open-heart surgery in 1953. This surgery would require her to take it easy for a while, which she did with some difficulty. In 1964, she had a major stroke that paralyzed her left side and required her to learn how to walk again, as well as undergo hydrotherapy treatments. There were also two more minor strokes during this time. It was clear that she was nearing the end of her life, but she wanted to maintain an appearance of vitality. She spent much of her last year on holiday at Balmoral Castle, but by early October 1965, it became clear that death was imminent. The Queen died on March 6th, 1966 at the age of 76 years old. Her last words were:
All my possessions for one moment of time
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