The Queen's early years in Wales and the start of a special relationship

An informal portrait of Princess Elizabeth, taken shortly before her 21st birthday, April 1947. Credit: PA

Elizabeth II had a special and enduring relationship with Wales, which began during her childhood.

When she was just six years old, the then Princess Elizabeth was gifted her own small house - Y Bwthyn Bach (the Little Cottage) - by the people of Wales.

The miniature cottage is scaled to a child’s size and lies in the grounds of the Royal Lodge in Windsor.

Queen Elizabeth II with her grandson Master Peter Phillips when he visited Y Bwthyn Bach for the first time. Credit: PA

A lifelong lover of dogs, the Queen’s favourite breed was famously the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

She owned more than 30 after her accession to the throne, but also kept them during her childhood.

In this photograph, taken in January 1941, Elizabeth is pictured with her sister, Princess Margaret enjoying an afternoon with Susan the Corgi.

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

As a young princess, Elizabeth visited Wales on a number of occasions.

During her first civic tour in March 1944, the 17-year-old completed a two-day tour of south Wales with her father, King George VI, and her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

In 1946, Princess Elizabeth was initiated as a bard during the National Eisteddfod of Wales in the mining village of Mountain Ash. She was awarded the bardic title ‘Elizabeth O Windsor’ in a special ceremony.

Princess Elizabeth being initiated as a Bard at the 1946 Eisteddfod. Credit: PA

Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten, who became Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey on 27 November 1947.

Her wedding ring - like that of many other British royal brides and grooms - was crafted from pure Welsh gold from the Clogau St David's gold mine, near Dolgellau.

Jerry Williams, a Welsh gold miner at Clogau St David's Mine, near Dolgellau, traditionally linked with Royal wedding rings. Credit: PA

On 27 May 1948, Princess Elizabeth was awarded the Freedom of Cardiff - a rare honour bestowed on fewer than 100 individuals and organisations since its inception in 1886.

The Duke of Edinburgh would be awarded the same honour six years later.

Princess Elizabeth visiting the Bath and West and Southern Counties Show at Cardiff after receiving the Freedom of Cardiff. Credit: PA

In 1947, Princess Elizabeth became honorary president of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society.

She visited the Royal Welsh Show, held in Carmarthen that year, where she made a heartwarming speech referencing “this lovely land of Wales”. 

Later, in 1952, she became Patron of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society - following in the footsteps of her father, King George VI, and her grandfather, King George V.

In the society’s 1952 journal, chairman Sir Bryner Jones wrote: "By her gracious decision to allow her name to be linked with our society, she has given ample proof of her concern for the future prosperity of Welsh agriculture."

As Queen, Elizabeth II continued to attend the Royal Welsh Show on a number of occasions, including in 2004 - the society’s centenary year.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne on 6 February 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI, though her coronation wasn’t until 2 June 1953. 

Elizabeth II made her first official visit to Wales as Queen on 9 July 1953 - with many more to follow during her reign.