The Queen: Her life in pictures – from a young princess to a steadfast monarch

Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Caernarfon Castle in 2010. Credit: PA

The world has lost the Queen - Britain’s longest-serving monarch - who led a truly extraordinary life, from a young unassuming princess to a symbol of endurance and loyalty. 

We look back at the Queen’s life in pictures and some of her most iconic moments.  

Princess Elizabeth - daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York (the future King and Queen of England) waves from her carriage as she is driven around London in 1928. Born on April 21, 1926, she is the first-born of the royal couple.  

Princess Elizabeth - daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York - waves from the carriage in 1928. Credit: PA

The princess would later be joined by younger sister, Princess Margaret, born on August 21, 1930. The two sisters can be seen here in 1941 in the garden of their wartime country residence in Windsor. A petrol shortage during WWII meant their Royal Highnesses pony cart was brought into use. 

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in the garden of their wartime country residence (Windsor) in January 1941 Credit: PA

Born a decade before the start of WWII, a young Elizabeth, or Lilibet as she was known in her youth, spent her childhood living through the chaos of war. She is seen here with Princess Margaret after they broadcast on "Children's Hour" from Buckingham Palace in 1940 – a radio address to the children of the Commonwealth.  

A wartime picture of Princess Elizabeth (right) and Princess Margaret after they broadcast on "Children's Hour" from Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

It would be her first public speech to the world, in which she remarked “and when peace comes, remember it will be for us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place.” 

Happiest followed for the young princess after the war, as she got engaged to Philip, a young cadet she had met in 1939 at Dartmouth’s Britannia Royal Naval College.

Princess Elizabeth and groom, the newly created Duke of Edinburgh on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding. Credit: PA

The engagement announcement came on 9 July 1947 and their wedding took place just four months later, with a ceremony at Westminster Abbey in front of millions on 20 November. 

However, the royal couple’s carefree existence was halted upon the death of King George VI and young Elizabeth was thrust into the spotlight, becoming Queen Elizabeth II. Her coronation on 2 June 1953 was the first to be televised and it was watched by 27 million people in the UK alone.  

Queen Elizabeth II, on the throne as the bishops pay homage to her during the Coronation of 1953. Credit: PA

The couple’s first two children arrived before the coronation, Charles in 1948, followed by Anne in 1950. The Queen and Prince Philip waited a decade before having their third child, Andrew in 1960 and Edward in 1964.   

The Queen and Prince Philip with their children, left to right, baby Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Charles. Credit: PA

It was a lifetime of loyalty to her realm that defined her reign, with the Queen touring the UK, the Commonwealth and overseas hundreds of times.  

She is seen here on a walkabout in Portsmouth and meeting children in Antigua in the Caribbean – both in 1977 during her Silver Jubilee tour. 

Queen Elizabeth II on a walkabout in Portsmouth during her Silver Jubilee tour of Great Britain in 1977. Credit: PA
Queen Elizabeth II meeting children during a walkabout on Antigua, during of her Silver Jubilee tour of the Caribbean. Credit: PA

The Queen has had a long-standing relationship with the Armed Forces, both in the UK and in the Commonwealth.  

When she was just 18, she became the first female member of the royal family to serve in the armed forces, training as a mechanic and military truck driver. Since then, her bond with the army has remained close and she held many military appointments and honorary ranks.  

Her birthday was celebrated every year with the great military display of Trooping of the Colour and for many years, she attended on horseback, dressed in full military uniform. 

Queen Elizabeth II takes the salute of the Household Guards regiments during the Trooping of the Colour ceremony in London in 1985. Credit: PA

The Queen’s reign has not been without tragedy, most recently the death of her husband of 73 years Prince Philip in 2021. However, one of the most tragic losses the Queen, the royal family and the country had to endure was the death of Princess Diana in 1997. 

She faced fierce criticism over her handling of the situation and not judging the public mood, but in a show of solidarity with the nation, she travelled to London to view the millions of tributes left for the ‘People’s Princess’ outside Buckingham Palace. 

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh view the floral tributes to Diana, Princess of Wales, at Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

The Queen’s reign has also been laced with happy memories, including many weddings. The most recent was her granddaughter Princess Beatrice’s in 2020, which took place amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the Queen and Philip having to stand socially distanced away from the happy couple.  

Her majesty also attended Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding in 2018, where she waved and beamed at the newlyweds as they drove past. 

Queen Elizabeth II, Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the royal family wave after the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Credit: PA

A happy and longstanding marriage is something the Queen fostered, she spent 73 years married Prince Philip. On their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, she said Philip "has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years". They can be seen here celebrating their silver wedding anniversary in Balmoral in 1972.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at Balmoral to celebrate their Silver Wedding anniversary in 1972. Credit: PA

Family has remained a cornerstone of the Queen.

The longest-serving monarch leaves behind four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. 

Queen Elizabeth is joined by members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Place after the Trooping the Colour ceremony in 2019. Credit: PA
The Queen meets new Prime Minister Liz Truss at Balmoral, in a break from tradition. Credit: PA

The Queen met every one of Britain’s prime ministers during her lifetime – beginning with  wartime leader, Sir Winston Churchill.  She met her final British prime minister, Liz Truss, at her Balmoral residence in Scotland in a landmark break from tradition, after it was recommended the monarch avoid travel. 

The UK and the world reacts to the death of Her Majesty The Queen