What a way to kick off my 31 Day series: 31 People who Inspire, Influence, Impress than with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Many of you may know very little about her and you may think my choice is strange but Her Majesty The Queen has impressed me immensely over my lifetime and it all started with a TV show about her life.
The show followed her for a few months and got a glimpse into her life behind the scenes. I was amazed by how hard she worked (for more information see A Day In The Life), the amount of tasks she undertook, the levels of personal investment she made in so many things and her passion and dedication to serve her country and commonwealth – all at the grand age of 88 years. I have had a huge level of admiration for her ever since.
Let me tell you a little about her:
The Queen was born at 2.40am on 21 April 1926 at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London. She was the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
At the time she stood third in line of succession to the throne after Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), and her father, The Duke of York. But it was not expected that her father would become King, or that she would become Queen.
Princess Elizabeth’s quiet family life came to an end in 1936, when her grandfather, King George V, died. His eldest son came to the throne as King Edward VIII, but, before the end of the year, King Edward VIII had decided to give up the throne in order to marry the woman he loved, Mrs Wallis Simpson.
Upon his abdication, Princess Elizabeth’s father acceded to the throne as King George VI, and in 1937 the two Princesses (Elizabeth and Margaret) attended their parents’ coronation in Westminster Abbey.
Princess Elizabeth was now first in line to the throne, and a figure of even more intense public interest.
Queen Elizabeth II was not born as an heir to the throne – it is a role she came into by pure chance. I love this statement she made on her 21st birthday,
“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.”
I believe that she has lived up to that statement.
Second World War
One of the most incredible things many people do not know about The Queen is that in early 1945 the Princess was made a Subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). By the end of the war she had reached the rank of Junior Commander, having completed her course at No. 1 Mechanical Training Centre of the ATS and passed out as a fully qualified driver. She does not mess around, and when she says she will serve – she actually did!
Her Accession and Coronation
On Wednesday, 6 February 1952, Princess Elizabeth received the news of her father’s death and her own accession to the throne, while staying in a remote part of Kenya. The tour had to be abandoned, and the young Princess flew back to Britain as Queen. She was greeted by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other officials at the airport.
The Coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. It was a solemn ceremony conducted by Dr Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury. Crowds of people viewed the procession all along the route, despite heavy rain. The ceremony was also broadcast on radio around the world and, at The Queen’s request, on television for the first time.
Her Marriage & Family
Shortly after the Royal Family returned from South Africa in 1947, the Princess’s engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten was announced.
The couple, who had known each other for many years, were married in Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947. The event was fairly simple, as Britain was still recovering from the war, and Princess Elizabeth had to collect clothing coupons for her dress, like any other young bride. They spent their honeymoon at Broadlands, Hampshire, the home of Lord Mountbatten, and at Birkhall, Balmoral.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary on 20 November 2014. The Queen has paid public tribute to her husband on several occasions, recalling his loyal support and service to the country. They have four children, eight grandchildren and four (soon to be five) great-grandchildren.
1) The Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except those in 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.
2) There have been six Archbishops of Canterbury during The Queen’s reign (Archbishops Geoffrey Fisher, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan, Robert Runcie, George Carey and Rowan Williams).
3) There have been six Roman Catholic Popes during The Queen’s reign (Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI).
4) In 60 years, The Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 State Visits, to 116 different countries.
5) In an average year, The Queen will host more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. The Queen also hosts more than 8,000 people each year at garden parties and investitures at Holyroodhouse, during Holyrood Week.
6) Since 1952 The Queen has given Royal Assent to more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament.
7) Over the reign, Her Majesty has given regular audiences to 12 Prime Ministers. They are:
- Winston Churchill 1951-55
- Sir Anthony Eden 1955-57
- Harold Macmillan 1957-63
- Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1963-64
- Harold Wilson 1964-70 and 1974-76
- Edward Heath 1970-74
- James Callaghan 1976-79
- Margaret Thatcher 1979-90
- John Major 1990-97
- Tony Blair 1997-2007
- Gordon Brown 2007-2010
- David Cameron 2010 – present
Sources: HM The Queen and Wikipedia