LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II surpasses on Wednesday Queen Victoria as the longest British sovereign to have been on the throne in the history of Britain.
Born on April 21, 1926, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, Queen of the United Kingdom and several Commonwealth countries (Commonwealth of Nations), was the eldest daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
She was educated by tutors and raised as third in line to the throne after her uncle Edward and her father, but her future took a different turn when she was 10, after her uncle, Edward VIII abdicated to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
In December 1936, Elizabeth became heir to the throne when her father was crowned King George VI.
Before these changes, Elizabeth had a happy childhood and enjoyed playing with other girls her age at home thanks to a group created especially for her as attending school was considered unsuitable.
Her family called her Lilibet and from a young age she loved dogs and horses and was very close to her sister, Princess Margaret, four years younger than her.
As a teenager, she served as an honorary subaltern of the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service and took classes to drive and repair vehicles during the war.
At the time, she exchanged correspondence with the handsome Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, whom she married two years after the war on Nov. 20, 1947, when the king granted him the title of Duke of Edinburgh.
While still a princess, Elizabeth give birth to Prince Charles and Princess Anne, before her father died on Feb. 6, 1952 and she became Queen Elizabeth II.
A few years later, she gave birth to two sons, Princes Andrew and Edward, at a time when she maintained a busy schedule of work and enjoyed great popularity.
With a stoic attitude to the most difficult moments, Elizabeth II has witnessed economic crises, demographic changes, loss of colonies, wars, terrorism of the Irish Republican Army, or IRA, the flowering of literature and the arts, and also family tragedies, including the death of Diana, the wife of the heir to the throne, Charles.
She had to deal with the divorce of three of her four children, Charles, Anne and Andrew, but it was the divorce of Charles and Diana in 1992 that was one of the most difficult moments of her reign, symbolized by her famous phrase “Annus Horribilis,” delivered at the end of that year.
It was also the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in 1997 that tested her, with the royal family seen as cold and indifferent for staying in Scotland as people wept and placed flowers at Buckingham Palace in London.
Her last years were successful thanks to the weddings of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke of Cambridge, William, to Catherine Middleton.
In her 63rd year on the throne, Elizabeth II holds to the promise she made when she was 21, “My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”