Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history, died Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with her family by her side. She was 96 years old.
The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.
The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/VfxpXro22W
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 8, 2022
Born April 21, 1926 to the Duke and Duchess of York, the trajectory of her life changed in December 1936 when her uncle, King Edward VII, abdicated the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, and her father became King George VI. By all accounts Elizabeth and her father were extremely close, and she spent hours on the grounds of Balmoral discussing politics and her eventual duties as Queen.
During World War II, she served as a driver and mechanic in the Auxiliary Territorial Service.
A young female auto mechanic in military uniform in England in 1945 would not have been a rare sight, nor would a photograph of one such woman giving a demonstration to a visiting dignitary. This particular photo, however, is unusual because of what her job was when she wasn’t serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), a women’s army auxiliary branch.
The visiting dignitary is Queen Elizabeth — now perhaps better known as the Queen Mother — and the young ATS subaltern is her daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II.
When she was 13, she first met her future husband, Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark, and said she fell in love with him then. The two were engaged when she was 21, and married later that year.
'I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.'
On her twenty-first birthday, in a speech broadcast on the radio from Cape Town, The Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) dedicated her life to the service of the Commonwealth. pic.twitter.com/0URU2tEPj8
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 9, 2020
In 1952, while Elizabeth and Phillip were on a tour in Kenya, King George VI died, and Elizabeth immediately ascended to the throne. At that time the couple had two children, Charles and Anne, and eventually two more sons joined the family, Andrew and Edward.
Queen Elizabeth was a trailblazer, a working mom long before the practice was common. From her official biography:
The Queen carries out all of her duties against the backdrop of a full personal life which has seen her raise four children and welcome grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren to the Royal Family. The Duke of Edinburgh was – in her own words – her ‘strength and stay’ during her reign, whilst other members of the Royal Family continue to offer vital support through their work in the UK and overseas.
Elizabeth celebrated her Platinum Jubilee just three months ago, and earlier this week the Queen Elizabeth Platinum Jubilee Archway was opened at the Braemar Gathering in Scotland.
Prince Charles and Camilla also officially opened The Queen Elizabeth Platinum Jubilee Archway. The structure was supported by The Prince's Foundation and celebrates 70 years of Her Majesty as monarch and as Patron of The Braemar Royal Highland Society. pic.twitter.com/XdFLMksv5J
— The Crown Chronicles (@crownchronicles) September 4, 2022
Just two days ago, the Queen received Liz Truss at Balmoral. It was her last official duty, and her last official photo.
🤝 The Queen received Liz Truss at Balmoral Castle today.
Her Majesty asked her to form a new Administration. Ms. Truss accepted Her Majesty's offer and was appointed Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury. pic.twitter.com/klRwVvEOyc
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 6, 2022
In addition to her four children, Elizabeth is survived by eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. She has now been reunited with her love, Phillip.