I’m sure you heard the news recently about the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, but how much do you know about her life? Read on and learn more.
She was born on 21st April 1926. She was then known as Princess Elizabeth of York. She died on 8th September 2022, aged 96. She had a younger sister, Princess Margaret, who was born in 1930.
She was never expected to become the Queen. As I’m sure you know, usually when a king or queen dies, the oldest child becomes the future monarch. Princess Elizabeth’s father had an older brother, Edward, and everyone thought Edward would be king and then he would have children of his own who would succeed him. In 1936, Elizabeth's grandfather died and her uncle became King Edward VIII but later that year, he abdicated (which means he decided not to be king and he gave up his throne). This was because he wanted to marry a divorced woman, Wallis Simpson, and the church didn’t allow divorced people to remarry. Suddenly her father became King George VI and Princess Elizabeth became the heir to the throne.
Her husband, Philip, was her third cousin. They both share the same great-great-grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Elizabeth and Philip married in 1947. He was Prince Philip, not King Philip, because he was married to the Queen and wasn’t a King in his own right. A king’s husband is a queen consort and is addressed as Queen, but a queen’s husband is a prince. This is because of the old-fashioned view that men have a higher status than a woman, so calling Philip “King” would have put him in a higher position than his wife! Prince Philip died in 2021, aged 99.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had four children, Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. They also had 8 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
The Queen had two birthdays! Her real birthday was 21st April but as it is often cold and rainy in April in the UK, she had an official birthday too, on the second Saturday in June, when the weather is better! This also allowed her to celebrate her real birthday privately with her family while her official birthday was marked by a public parade.
Elizabeth II was Queen for 70 years, longer than any other king or queen in the UK. In June 2022, she celebrated her platinum jubilee, which you can read more about here.
She loved animals and always had corgis. These are small dogs with short legs and reddish brown fur. She owned over 30 corgis in her lifetime. She was given one for her 18th birthday and all the others were descended from that one. In the early 1980s, she had 13 corgis all at the same time! Princess Diana called them “the moving carpet”.
World War 2
In the Second World War, it was suggested that Princess Elizabeth and her sister should be sent to Canada to keep them safe but their mother, the Queen, said, "The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave.” In 1945, she worked as a driver and mechanic in the women’s branch of the British Army.
The Queen liked cars and driving. She sometimes used to drive herself rather than using a driver, but probably only when she was away from the public gaze. She never did a driving test and didn't have a driving licence. She didn’t have a passport either.
Sense of humour
Queen Elizabeth was witty and had a great sense of humour. As part of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, she apparently flew in a helicopter from Buckingham Palace to the Olympic Stadium, accompanied by James Bond, and then they both jumped out of the helicopter with a parachute! As part of her platinum jubilee celebrations, she did a short sketch with Paddington Bear.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Reading is a great way to improve your English. For more reading resources, visit this page.
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