When Elizabeth became queen, post-war Britain still had a substantial empire, dominions and dependencies.
However, during the s and s, many of these possessions achieved independence and the British Empire evolved into the Commonwealth of Nations. Elizabeth II has thus made visits to other countries as head of the Commonwealth and a representative of Britain, including a groundbreaking trip to Germany in She became the first British monarch to tour there in more than five decades. During the s and s, Elizabeth continued to travel extensively. More than a week later she was in Montreal, Canada, to open the Summer Olympics.
Britain went to war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, a clash that lasted for several weeks. While more than British soldiers died in the conflict, Prince Andrew returned home safe and well, much to his mother's relief. In , Elizabeth showed that the crown still had symbolic and diplomatic power when she became the first British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland since As queen, Elizabeth has modernized the monarchy, dropping some of its formalities and making certain sites and treasures more accessible to the public.
As Britain and other nations struggled financially, she welcomed the elimination of the Civil List, which was a public funding system of the monarchy dating back roughly years. The royal family continues to receive some government support, but the Queen has had to cut back on spending. Despite the occasional call to step aside for Charles, Elizabeth remained steadfast in her royal obligations as she passed her 90th birthday.
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She continued making more than engagements per year, maintaining her support of hundreds of charitable organizations and programs. However, in late the monarchy took what was considered a major step toward transitioning to the next generation: On November 12, Charles handled the traditional Remembrance Sunday duty of placing a wreath at the Cenotaph war memorial, as the Queen watched from a nearby balcony.
In August , Elizabeth made a rare intrusion into political matters when she agreed to a request by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to prorogue suspend Parliament until October 14, less than three weeks before Britain's planned departure from the European Union. Elizabeth has had 14 prime ministers placed into power during her reign, with Queen and PM having a weekly, confidential meeting. Elizabeth has also met about a quarter of all the U.
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She enjoyed a father-figure relationship with the iconic Winston Churchill and was later able to loosen up a bit and be somewhat informal with Labour leaders Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. In contrast, she and Margaret Thatcher had a very formal, distant relationship, with the PM tending to be a grating lecturer to the Queen on a variety of issues.
Tony Blair saw certain concepts around the monarchy as somewhat outdated, though he did appreciate Elizabeth making a public statement after the death of Diana. Later, Conservative leader David Cameron, who is Elizabeth's fifth cousin removed, enjoyed a warm rapport with the Queen. He apologized in for revealing in a conversation that she was against the Scottish referendum to seek independence from Great Britain. Elizabeth has worked tirelessly to protect the image of the monarchy and to prepare for its future.
But she has seen the monarchy come under attack during her lifetime. The once-revered institution has weathered a number of storms, including death threats against the royal family. In , Elizabeth suffered a great personal loss when Lord Mountbatten, her husband's uncle, died in a terrorist bombing. Mountbatten and several members of his family were aboard his boat on August 29th, off the west coast of Ireland, when the vessel exploded.
A History of Modern Adulthood
He and three others, including one of his grandsons, were killed. In June , Elizabeth herself had a dangerous encounter. She was riding in the Trooping the Colour, a special military parade to celebrate her official birthday, when a man in the crowd pointed a gun at her. He fired, but, fortunately, the gun was loaded with blanks. Other than receiving a good scare, the Queen was not hurt.
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Elizabeth had an even closer call the following year when an intruder broke into Buckingham Palace and confronted her in her bedroom. When the press got wind of the fact that Prince Philip was nowhere to be seen during this incident, they speculated about the state of the royal marriage. In the wake of Diana's death in a Paris car crash on August 31, , Elizabeth experienced intense media scrutiny.
For days, Elizabeth remained silent while the country mourned Diana's passing, and she was sharply criticized for her lack of response. Stories circulated that the Queen did not want to give Diana a royal funeral, which only fueled public sentiment against the monarch. Nearly a week after Diana's death, Elizabeth returned to London and issued a statement on the late princess.
Elizabeth also initially objected to the relationship between her son Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles , who were involved while the prince was still married to Diana. Known to be a stickler for ceremony and tradition, she eventually started to show signs of softening her stance over the years.
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The news came following the leak of the so-called "Paradise Papers" to a German newspaper, which shared the documents with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The Duchy of Lancaster, which holds assets for the Queen, confirmed that some of its investments were overseas accounts, but insisted they were all legitimate. After the start of the 21st century, Elizabeth experienced two great losses. She said goodbye to both her sister Margaret and her mother in , the same year she celebrated her Golden Jubilee, or 50th year on the throne. Margaret, known for being more of an adventurous soul than other royals and who was barred from marrying an early love, died in February after suffering a stroke.
Only a few weeks later, Elizabeth's mother, known as the Queen Mother, died at Royal Lodge on March 30th at the age of Elizabeth celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in , marking 60 years as queen. Elizabeth was surrounded by family at this historic event, including her husband Philip, son Charles and grandsons Harry and William.
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On September 9, , she surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria as Britain's longest-ruling monarch, who reigned for 63 years. On February 6, , the Queen celebrated 65 years on the throne, the only British monarch to ever celebrate her Sapphire Jubilee. The date also marks the anniversary of the death of her father.
The Queen chose to spend the day quietly at Sandringham, her country estate north of London, where she attended a church service. In London, there were royal gun salutes at Green Park and at the Tower of London to mark the occasion. For much of her life, the Queen has surrounded herself with dogs.
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She is especially known for her love of corgis, owning more than 30 descendants of the first corgi she received as a teenager, until the death of the final one, Willow, in Elizabeth is also a horse enthusiast who bred thoroughbreds and attended racing events for many years. Not one for the spotlight, Elizabeth likes quiet pastimes. She enjoys reading mysteries, working on crossword puzzles and even watching wrestling on television. We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Sign up for the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives.
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