|Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the other Commonwealth realms|
|Reign:||6 February 1952 – present|
|Coronation:||2 June 1953|
|Successor:||Charles, Prince of Wales|
|Spouse:||Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh|
|Issue:||Charles, Prince of Wales|
Anne, Princess Royal
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
|Full Name:||Elizabeth Alexandra Mary|
|Styles:||HM The Queen|
HRH The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh
HRH The Princess Elizabeth
HRH Princess Elizabeth of York
|House:||House of Windsor|
|Anthem:||God Save the Queen|
|Date Of Birth:||21 April 1926|
|Place Of Birth:||Mayfair, London|
|Date Of Christening:||29 May 1926|
|Place Of Christening:||Buckingham Palace, London|
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is the queen regnant of sixteen independent states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. All together, these countries have a combined population, including dependencies, of over 129 million. She holds each crown separately and equally in a shared monarchy, and carries out duties in and on behalf of all the states of which she is sovereign. She is also Head of the Commonwealth, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Duke of Normandy, Lord of Mann, and Paramount Chief of Fiji. In theory her powers are vast; however, in practice, and in accordance with convention, she rarely intervenes in political matters.
Her long reign has seen sweeping changes with the dissolution of the British Empire (a process that began before her accession) and the consequent evolution of the modern Commonwealth of Nations. Elizabeth became Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) upon the death of her father, George VI, on 6 February 1952. As other British colonies gained independence from the United Kingdom, she became queen of several newly independent countries. During her 57 years on the throne, she has been the sovereign of 32 individual nations, but half of them subsequently became republics.
Elizabeth married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947. The couple have four children and eight grandchildren. She is one of the longest-reigning British monarchs, after Victoria (who reigned over the United Kingdom for 63 years), George III (who reigned over Great Britain for 59 years), and James VI (who reigned over Scotland for over 57 years).
Elizabeth was the first child of Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Elizabeth, Duchess of York. She was born by Caesarian section at 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London  and baptised on 29 May 1926 by then Archbishop of York, Cosmo Lang, in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace. Her godparents were her paternal grandparents King George V and Queen Mary; her aunts, Princess Mary, Viscountess Lascelles and Mary Elphinstone, Lady Elphinstone; her great-great-uncle, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn; and her maternal grandmother, Cecilia Bowes-Lyon, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Elizabeth was named after her mother, her great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra, and grandmother, Queen Mary. As a child, her close family called her Lilibet, from her mispronunciation of her own name.
Elizabeth had a close relationship with her grandfather, and was credited with aiding in his recovery from illness in 1929.  Winston Churchill described her when she was two as "a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant." Her cousin, Margaret Rhodes, described her as "a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved".
Her only sibling was Princess Margaret, born in 1930. The two princesses were educated at home under the supervision of their mother and their governess, Marion Crawford, who was casually known as Crawfie. To the dismay of the royal family, Crawford later published a biography of Elizabeth and Margaret's childhood years entitled The Little Princesses. The book describes Elizabeth's love of horses and dogs, her orderliness, and her responsibility.
As a granddaughter of the monarch in the male line, Elizabeth held the title of a British princess, with the style Her Royal Highness, her full style being Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York. At birth, she was third in the line of succession to the throne, behind her uncle, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, and her father. Although her birth did generate public interest, there was no reason to believe then that she would ever become queen, as it was widely assumed that the Prince of Wales would marry and have children of his own. In 1936, when her grandfather, the King, died and her uncle Edward succeeded, she was second in line after her father. Later that year, Edward abdicated and her father became king. Elizabeth became heiress presumptive, and was thereafter known as Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth.
Although the heir to the British throne is generally created Prince of Wales, Elizabeth was never bestowed the title possibly because there was a remote possibility that if Elizabeth's father had a son, her brother would supplant Elizabeth in the line of succession. Some feel that George VI missed the opportunity to make an innovation in royal practice by re-adopting Henry VIII's idea of proclaiming his daughter, Lady Mary as Princess of Wales in her own right, in 1525.
Elizabeth studied constitutional history with Sir Henry Marten, Vice-Provost of Eton College, and religion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. She learned modern languages, and still speaks French fluently. A Girl Guides company, the 1st Buckingham Palace Company, was formed specifically so Elizabeth could socialize with girls her own age. She gained the interpreter, swimmer, dancer, horsewoman, cook, child nurse, and needlewoman badges, and eventually became patrol leader of the Swallow Patrol. Later she was enrolled as a Sea Ranger and, in 1946, she became Chief Ranger of the British Empire Rangers, the Senior branch of Girl Guides. The Queen is still involved in Scouting and Guiding and has served as the patron of The Scout Association since 1952.
In 1939, the Canadian government wanted Elizabeth to accompany her parents on their upcoming tour of Canada. However, the King decided against this, stating that his daughter was too young to undertake such a strenuous tour, which ended up being over a month long. Elizabeth had probably met her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in 1934 and 1937. After another meeting at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in July 1939, Elizabeth, though only 13 years old, fell in love with Philip, and they began to exchange letters.
In September 1939, World War II broke out. Elizabeth and her younger sister, Margaret, stayed at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, from September to Christmas 1939, until they moved to Sandringham House, Norfolk. In May 1940, they moved to Windsor Castle, where they stayed for most of the next five years. There was some suggestion that the two princesses be evacuated to Canada, where they, along with their parents, would have lived at Hatley Castle in British Columbia. This plan never came to fruition; to the proposal, Elizabeth's mother made the famous reply: "The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave." The children remained at Windsor, where they staged pantomimes at Christmas, to which family and friends were invited, along with the children of Royal Household staff. It was from Windsor that Elizabeth, in 1940, made her first radio broadcast during the BBC's Children's Hour, addressing other children who had been evacuated from the cities. She stated:
"We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying, too, to bear our share of the danger and sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well."
During Elizabeth's years at Windsor, plans were drawn up by the constitutional expert Edward Iwi to have a member of the Royal Family present in Wales, in order to quell the growing nationalist influence of Plaid Cymru. In a report to the Home Secretary Herbert Morrison, Iwi proposed appointing Elizabeth as Constable of Caernarfon Castle (the post then held by David Lloyd George) and patron of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, and to tour Wales as such. The ideas were rejected by the Home Secretary, on the grounds that it might cause conflict between north and south Wales; by the King, who refused to subject his young daughter to the pressures of conducting official tours; and by the government, as two leading members of Urdd Gobaith Cymru were discovered to be conscientious objectors.
In 1945, Elizabeth accompanied her parents on visits to Commonwealth service personnel, and began to carry out solo duties, such as reviewing a parade of Canadian airwomen. She joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service, as No. 230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor. She trained as a driver and mechanic, drove a military truck, and rose to the rank of Junior Commander.
At the end of the war in Europe, on VE Day, Elizabeth and her sister mingled anonymously with the celebratory crowds in the streets of London. She later said in a rare interview, "we asked my parents if we could go out and see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognised ... I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief." Two years later, the Princess made her first official overseas tour, when she accompanied her parents to Southern Africa. On her 21st birthday, in a broadcast to the British Commonwealth from South Africa, she pledged: "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."
Elizabeth married Philip on 20 November 1947. The couple are second cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark and third cousins through Queen Victoria. Before the marriage, Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles, and adopted the style Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, the surname adopted by his mother's family. Just before the wedding, he was created Duke of Edinburgh and granted the style of His Royal Highness.
The marriage was not without controversy: Philip was Greek Orthodox, had no financial standing, and had sisters who had married German noblemen with Nazi links. Elizabeth's mother was reported, in later biographies, to have opposed the union, even dubbing Philip as The Hun. Still, the Commonwealth had not yet completely rebounded from the devastation of the war; rationing still required that the Princess save up her rationing coupons to buy the material for her gown, designed by Norman Hartnell. The wedding was seen as the first glimmer of a hope of rebirth. Elizabeth and Philip received over 2,500 wedding gifts from around the world. At the ceremony, Elizabeth's bridesmaids were her sister; her cousin, Princess Alexandra of Kent; Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott, a cadet relative through their mutual aunt; Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester; her second cousin, Lady Mary Cambridge; Lady Elizabeth Mary Lambart (now Longman), daughter of Frederick Lambart, Earl of Cavan; The Honourable Pamela Mountbatten (now Hicks), Philip's cousin; and two maternal cousins, The Honourable Margaret Elphinstone (now Rhodes) and The Honourable Diana Bowes-Lyon (now Somervell). Her page boys were her young paternal first cousins, Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent. In post-war Britain, it was not acceptable for any of the Duke of Edinburgh's German relations to be invited to the wedding, including Philip's three surviving sisters. Elizabeth's aunt, Princess Mary, Princess Royal, allegedly refused to attend because her brother, the Duke of Windsor (who abdicated in 1936), was not invited due to his marital situation; she gave ill health as the official reason for not attending.
Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Prince Charles, on 14 November 1948, several weeks after letters patent were issued by her father allowing her children to enjoy a royal and princely status to which they otherwise would not have been entitled. Though the Royal House is named Windsor, it was decreed through a British Order-in-Council in 1960, that those male-line descendants of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip who were not princes and princesses of the United Kingdom should have the personal surname Mountbatten-Windsor. In practice, however, all of their children have used Mountbatten-Windsor as their surname. A second child, Princess Anne was born in 1950.
Following their wedding, the couple leased their first home, Windlesham Moor, until 4 July 1949, when they took up residence at Clarence House. However, at various times between 1949 and 1951, the Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in Malta (at that time a British Protectorate) as a serving Royal Navy officer. He and Elizabeth lived intermittently, for several months at a time, in the Maltese hamlet of Gwardamangia, at the Villa Gwardamangia, the rented home of Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma. During their Maltese visits, the children remained in Britain.
George VI's health declined during 1951, and Elizabeth was soon frequently standing in for him at public events. In October of that year, she toured Canada, and visited the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, in Washington, D.C.; on that trip, the Princess carried with her a draft Accession Declaration for use if the King died while she was out of the United Kingdom. In early 1952, Elizabeth and Philip set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand via Kenya. At Sagana Lodge, about 100 miles north of Nairobi, word arrived of the death of Elizabeth's father on 6 February. Philip broke the news to the new queen. Martin Charteris, then her Assistant Private Secretary, asked her what she intended to be called as monarch, to which she replied: "My own name, of course." As the royal party hastily returned to the United Kingdom, Elizabeth was proclaimed queen. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh moved into Buckingham Palace. As with many of her predecessors, Elizabeth is reported to dislike the palace as a residence, and considers Windsor Castle to be her home.
Despite the death of the Queen's grandmother Queen Mary on 24 March 1953, the Queen's coronation went ahead in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, in accordance with Mary's wishes. The entire ceremony was, save for the anointing and communion, televised throughout the Commonwealth, and watched by an estimated twenty million people, with twelve million more listening on the radio. Elizabeth wore a gown commissioned from Norman Hartnell, which consisted of embroidered floral emblems of the countries of the Commonwealth: the Tudor rose of England, the Scots thistle, the Welsh leek, shamrocks for Ireland, the wattle of Australia, the maple leaf of Canada, the New Zealand fern, South Africa's protea, two lotus flowers for India and Ceylon, and Pakistan's wheat, cotton, and jute.
In the midst of the coronation preparations, Princess Margaret informed her sister, the Queen, that she wished to marry Peter Townsend. Townsend was a divorced commoner sixteen years older than Margaret with two sons from his previous marriage. The Queen asked them to wait for a year. In the words of Martin Charteris, "The Queen was naturally sympathetic towards the Princess, but I think she thought – she hoped – given time, the affair would peter out." Churchill advised against the marriage, and the other Commonwealth prime ministers were also concerned that the union would be seen as unsuitable by the public. The Church of England did not permit re-marriage after divorce, and Lord Salisbury, a senior government minister, threatened to resign if the government approved the match. If Margaret contracted a civil marriage against the government's advice, she would be removed from the line of succession. Eventually, Margaret decided to abandon her plans with Townsend, "mindful of the Church's teaching that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth". Margaret later married Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon. They were divorced in 1978. She did not remarry.
Elizabeth witnessed, over her life, the ongoing transformation of the old British empire into the new British Commonwealth, and its modern successor, the Commonwealth of Nations. By the time of Elizabeth's accession in 1952, her role as nominal head of multiple independent states was already established. Spanning 1953–1954, the Queen and her husband embarked on a six month, around the world tour, making Elizabeth the first monarch to circumnavigate the globe. She became the first reigning monarch of Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji to visit those nations. During the tour, crowds were immense; three-quarters of the population of Australia were estimated to have seen the Queen.
In 1956, French Prime Minister Guy Mollet and British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden discussed the possibility of France joining in a union with the United Kingdom; among the ideas put forward was one in which Elizabeth was to be the French head of state. Mollet "had not thought there need be difficulty over France accepting the headship of Her Majesty." The proposal was never accepted, and the following year France signed the Treaty of Rome. In November that year, Britain and France invaded Egypt in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to capture the Suez canal. Earl Mountbatten of Burma claimed the Queen was opposed to the invasion, though the Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, denied it. Eden resigned two months later.
In 1957, the Queen received her first real personal criticism from Lord Altrincham, who accused her of being "out of touch". Altrincham was denounced by public figures and physically attacked by members of the public appalled at his comments. She made a state visit to the United States, where she addressed the United Nations General Assembly. On the same tour she opened the 23rd Canadian Parliament, becoming the first Canadian monarch to open a parliamentary session. Two years later, she revisited Canada and the United States. In February 1961, she visited Ankara with Cemal Gursel, and toured India, Iran, Pakistan, and Nepal for the first time. During a trip to Ghana, she refused to keep her distance from President Kwame Nkrumah, despite him being a target for assassins. Harold Macmillan wrote at the time: "the Queen has been absolutely determined all through. She is impatient of the attitude towards her to treat her as... a film star... She has indeed 'the heart and stomach of a man'... She loves her duty and means to be a queen."
Throughout her reign Elizabeth has undertaken state visits to foreign countries, as well as tours of each Commonwealth country, including attending all Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM) since the practice was established by Canada in 1973; the Queen had wished to attend the inaugural CHOGM in Singapore in 1971, but was advised not to do so by British Prime Minister Edward Heath. Elizabeth II is the most widely-travelled head of state in history. 
Elizabeth's pregnancies with both Andrew and Edward, in 1959 and 1963, marked the only times Elizabeth did not perform the State Opening of the British Parliament during her reign. She delegated the task to the Lord Chancellor instead. Elizabeth inaugurated the first Canadian trans-Atlantic telephone cable (part of one devised to link all the Commonwealth countries) in 1961, by calling Canadian Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, from Buckingham Palace with the words "are you there Mr. Prime Minister?", In 1965, Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith declared unilateral independence from Britain. Although the Queen dismissed Smith in a formal declaration and the international community applied sanctions against Rhodesia, Smith's regime survived for another eleven years.
In 1969, Elizabeth sent one of 73 Apollo 11 Goodwill Messages to NASA for the historic first lunar landing; the message is etched on a tiny silicon disc that still rests on the moon's surface. She later met the crew during their world tour. In 1976, she became the first monarch to e-mail.
At the height of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed from his post by Governor-General Sir John Kerr after Parliament rejected Whitlam's budget proposals. The Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, Gordon Scholes, appealed to the Queen on behalf of the house to reverse Kerr's decision, on the basis that Whitlam's Labor Party still enjoyed the confidence of the house. Elizabeth declined, stating that it was not appropriate for her to intervene in affairs that are reserved for the Governor-General alone by the Constitution of Australia. The crisis fuelled Australian republicanism.
In 1977, Elizabeth marked the Silver Jubilee of her accession. Events took place in many countries throughout the Queen's associated Commonwealth tour, and included a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral attended by dignitaries and other heads of state. Parties were held throughout the Commonwealth realms, culminating in several Jubilee Days in the United Kingdom, in June. In Britain, commemorative stamps were issued. The Jubilee Line of the London Underground (though opened in 1979) was named for the anniversary, as were several other public locations and spaces, including the Jubilee Gardens in London's South Bank. In Canada, the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal was issued and an equestrian statue of the Queen was unveiled on Parliament Hill. In 1978, she endured a state visit by the brutal communist dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceauşescu, but the following year brought two blows: one was the unmasking of Anthony Blunt, Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, as a communist spy; the other was the assassination of her relative and in-law Earl Mountbatten of Burma by the Provisional Irish Republican Army.
Elizabeth's personal courage was shown in 1981 during the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony. Six shots were fired at her from close range as she rode down The Mall. She reacted only by ducking slightly and then continuing on. Commentators were universally shocked by the apparent attack on the Queen's life, even after it was revealed that the shots fired were blanks. The Canadian House of Commons was so impressed by her display of courage that a motion was passed praising her composure. The following year, the Queen found herself in another precarious situation when she awoke in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace to find a strange man, Michael Fagan, in the room with her. Remaining calm throughout, for approximately ten minutes, and through two calls to the palace police switchboard, Elizabeth spoke to Fagan while he sat at the foot of her bed until assistance arrived. From April to September that year, the Queen remained anxious about her son, Prince Andrew, who was serving with British forces during the Falklands War. Though she hosted President Ronald Reagan at Windsor Castle in 1982, and visited his Californian ranch in 1983, she was angered when his administration ordered the invasion of Grenada, one of her Caribbean realms.
In 1991, she became the first British monarch to address a joint session of the United States Congress. The following year, she attempted to save the failing marriage of her eldest son, Charles, by counselling him and his wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, to patch up their differences. She was unsuccessful, and the couple formally separated. In the ensuing years, public revelations on the state of Charles and Diana's marriage continued. Eventually, in consultation with the British Prime Minister John Major, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, her private secretary Robert Fellowes, and her husband, she wrote to both Charles and Diana saying that a divorce was now desirable. A year after the divorce, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997. At the time, the Queen was on holiday at Balmoral with her son and grandchildren. In their grief, Diana's two sons wanted to attend church, and so their grandparents took them that morning. For five days, the Queen and the Duke shielded their grandsons from the ensuing press interest by keeping them at Balmoral where they could grieve in private.  The royal family's seclusion caused public dismay. Pressured by her family, friends, the new British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and public reaction, the Queen agreed to broadcast live to the world on 5 September. In it, she expressed admiration for Diana, and her feelings "as a grandmother" for Princes William and Harry. The public mood was transformed by the broadcast from hostility to respect.
The Queen called 1992 her "annus horribilis" in a speech on 24 November 1992. The year had seen her daughter divorced, one son separated and another whose marriage was rocky. Windsor Castle had suffered severe fire damage, and the monarchy had come under increased criticism and public scrutiny. In an unusually personal speech, she said any institution must expect criticism but asked, "Couldn't it be done with a touch of humour, gentleness and understanding?"
In 2002, Elizabeth marked her Golden Jubilee as queen. She again undertook an extensive tour of her realms, which began in Jamaica in February, where the Queen called the farewell banquet "memorable" after a power cut plunged the King's House, the official residence of the Governor-General, into darkness. Though public celebrations in the UK were more muted than those that had taken place 25 years earlier, due, in part, to the death of both the Queen's mother and sister earlier that year, street parties and commemorative events were still planned in many locales. As in 1977, monuments were named and gifts offered to honour the occasion, including, in Canada, the Golden Jubilee Journalism New Media Centre at Sheridan College, and the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park.
In 2005, she was the first Canadian monarch to address the Legislative Assembly of Alberta; and, in 2007, the first British monarch to address the Virginia General Assembly. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2007, with a special service at Westminster Abbey and private dinner hosted by Prince Charles at Clarence House on 19 November, and, the following day (their actual anniversary) a dinner party with other members of the Royal Family, former and present Prime Ministers, and the surviving bridesmaids and pages from the original wedding party. On 21 November, Elizabeth and Philip travelled to Malta, where a Royal Navy ship that was docked in the vicinity arranged its crew members on deck in the form of the number 60.
On 20 March 2008, The Queen broke with tradition, and, for the first time ever, held a Maundy Service outside of England and Wales; accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Elizabeth attended the Maundy Thursday service in Northern Ireland, at the Church of Ireland St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, during a three day visit to coincide with Easter.
In late February 2003, the Queen's reign surpassed those of her four immediate predecessors combined (Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, and George VI), after which she became the third longest reigning British or English monarch, the second-longest-serving current monarch of a sovereign state (after King Bhumibol of Thailand), and the oldest reigning British monarch.
To become the longest-living British head of state, Elizabeth would have to live to 29 January 2012 when she would overtake Richard Cromwell. If Elizabeth lives until 19 September 2013, and her son Charles, the Prince of Wales succeeds her, he would become the oldest ever to succeed to the throne, surpassing William IV, who was 64. To overtake Queen Victoria and become the longest reigning monarch in British history, Elizabeth would have to live to 10 September 2015, when she would be 89. To surpass the reign of King Louis XIV of France, and become the longest reigning monarch in European history, Elizabeth would have to live until 26 May 2024, when she would be 98.
Elizabeth has enjoyed good health throughout her reign. While she continues to have what is described as excellent health and is seldom ill, she had some health issues in 2005–06. In June 2005, the Queen cancelled several engagements after contracting what the Palace described as a bad cold. In October 2006, she suffered a burst blood vessel in her right eye, causing it to appear deep red in colour. While Buckingham Palace did not comment, medical experts stated that the Queen would have suffered no pain, and would be back to normal within a week or two, without lasting damage. However, they also mentioned that burst blood vessels, though common in the elderly, could be a sign of high blood pressure. Later that month, the Queen had to cancel her appointment to officially open the new Emirates Stadium, because of a strained back muscle that had been troubling her since the end of her holiday at Balmoral Castle that summer. Elizabeth's back began to cause more serious concerns; in November 2006, there were worries that the Queen would not be well enough to open the British parliament, and, though she was able to attend, plans were drawn up to cover her possible absence. In December, there were rumours that Elizabeth was in declining health when she was seen in public with a bandage on her right hand, the position of which suggested that she may have been fitted with an intravenous drip, possibly, and especially in light of her back troubles, due to osteoporosis. It was later revealed, however, that the bandage was because one of her corgis bit her hand when she separated two that had been fighting.
At the time of her 80th birthday, the Queen made it clear that she had no intention of abdicating. For a number of years, both Prince Charles and Princess Anne had been standing in for their mother at events such as investitures, and acting as Counsellors of State. This led to some speculation in the British press that Prince Charles would start to perform many of the day-to-day duties of the monarch while Elizabeth effectively went into retirement. However, Buckingham Palace announced that Elizabeth would continue with her duties, both public and private, well into the future.
See main article: Personality and image of Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth is depicted in a 2006 semi-biographical film, The Queen, but little is known of Elizabeth's personal feelings. She has almost never given press interviews. She is believed to have a deep sense of religious and civic duty, and to take her coronation oath seriously. Elizabeth is known for her conservative fashions, consisting mostly of solid-colour overcoats and decorative hats, which allow her to be seen easily in a crowd. Out of the public eye, her main leisure interests include horse racing, photography, and dogs, especially her Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
In the 1950s, as a young woman at the start of her reign, Elizabeth was depicted as a glamorous "fairytale Queen". After the trauma of the war, it was a time of hope, a period of progress and achievement heralding a"new Elizabethan age". Lord Altrincham's accusation in 1957 that she was a "priggish schoolgirl" was an extremely rare criticism. In the late 1960s, attempts to portray a more modern image of monarchy were made in the television documentary Royal Family, and by televising Prince Charles's investiture as Prince of Wales. At her silver jubilee, the crowds and celebrations were genuinely enthusiastic, but in the 1980s public criticism of the royal family increased, as the personal and working lives of Elizabeth's children came under media scrutiny. Elizabeth's popularity sunk to a low point in the 1990s; under pressure from public opinion she began to pay income tax for the first time, and Buckingham Palace was opened to the public. Discontent with the monarchy reached its peak on the death of Diana, and only faded once the Queen had broadcasted to the world. In November 1999, a referendum in Australia on the future of the monarchy favoured its retention. As her Golden Jubilee year began, the media speculated whether it would be a success or a failure. The year began sombrely with the death of Elizabeth's sister and mother, but a million people attended each day of the three-day main Jubilee celebration in London. The enthusiasm shown by the public for Elizabeth was greater than many journalists had predicted. Polls in 2006 revealed strong support for Elizabeth; the majority of respondents desired that she remain on the throne until her death, and many felt that she had become an institution in herself.
Elizabeth's personal fortune has been the subject of speculation for many years. Forbes magazine estimated the amount at around US$600 million (GB£330 million), but official Buckingham Palace statements called estimates of £100 million "grossly overstated". Though the Royal Collection is worth an approximate £10 billion, it is held in trust for her successors and the British nation, as are Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and the other occupied palaces within the United Kingdom. 
Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle are privately owned by the Queen, having inherited them from her father on his death, along with the Duchy of Lancaster, itself valued at £310 million and which transferred a private income to the monarch of £9.811 million in 2006. Income from the British Crown Estate—with holdings of £7 billion—is transferred to her British treasury in return for Civil List payments. Both the Crown Estate and the Crown Land of Canada—comprising 89% (or approximately 8,885,000 km²) of the country's 9,984,670 km² area—are owned by Elizabeth in trust for the nation by virtue of her position as Sovereign, and cannot be sold or owned by her in a private capacity.
As a constitutional monarch, Elizabeth has not expressed her personal political opinions in a public forum, maintaining this discipline throughout her reign.
During an event in Westminster Hall that marked her Silver Jubilee as Queen, Elizabeth said in her speech: "I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland." This reference came at a time when the Labour government was attempting to introduce a controversial devolution policy in regards to Scotland and Wales, and was interpreted as a subtle expression of opposition to the scheme. Similarly, her statement of praise for the Northern Ireland Belfast Agreement raised some complaints among Unionists, who were traditionally strong monarchists. Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and founder of the Evangelical Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, famously broke with Unionism's traditional deference to the British Crown by calling the Queen "a parrot" of Tony Blair, suggesting that Elizabeth's support for the agreement would weaken the monarchy's standing among Northern Irish Protestants, a substantial number of whom remained opposed to certain parts of the accord. After referenda held in the 1990s came out in favour of devolution plans , the Queen sent her best wishes to the newly established Scottish parliament and National Assembly of Wales, the first sessions of which she opened in person.
When Elizabeth was invited to Canada in 1964, at the height of the Quebec separatist movement, there were concerns for her safety. It was reported that the terrorist organization Front de libération du Québec had made assassination threats against her, and cancellation of the tour was considered. The Queen's private secretary said that the Queen would have been horrified to have been prevented from going because of "the activities of extremists." While never speaking directly against separatism, Elizabeth did publicly praise Canada's unity and expressed her wish to see the continuation of a unified Canada, sometimes courting controversy over the matter. In a speech to the National Assembly of Quebec, she ignored the national controversy and the riots during her appearance in favour of praising Canada's two "complementary cultures". She spoke in both French and English about the strength of Canada's two founding peoples, stating: "I am pleased to think there exists in our Commonwealth a country where I can express myself officially in French," and, "whenever you sing [the French words of] "O Canada" you are reminded that you come of a proud race."  Later, after she proclaimed the Constitution Act in 1982, which was the first time in Canadian history that a major constitutional change had been made without the agreement of the government of Quebec, Elizabeth attempted to demonstrate her position as head of the whole Canadian nation, and her role as conciliator, by privately expressing to journalists at a reception at Rideau Hall her regret that Quebec had not been a part of the settlement.
In 1995, during a Quebec separatist referendum campaign, the Queen was tricked into revealing her more personal opinions on Quebec secession when Pierre Brassard, a DJ for Radio CKOI-FM Montreal, telephoned Buckingham Palace pretending to be then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and kept a convinced Queen Elizabeth in a fourteen minute conversation that vacillated between French and English. When told that the separatists were showing a lead in the polls, Elizabeth revealed that she felt the "referendum may go the wrong way," adding, "if I can help in any way, I will be happy to do so." However, she pointedly refused to accept the advice, from the man whom she believed to be Chrétien, that she intervene in the referendum without first seeing a draft speech sent by the Prime Minister's Office. The Queen eventually began to have suspicions about the person to whom she was speaking and ended the conversation, though her tactful handling of the call won plaudits from Brassard. Chrétien later, in his memoirs, recounted the Queen's tongue-in-cheek comments to him regarding this affair: "'I didn't think you sounded quite like yourself,' she told me, 'but I thought, given all the duress you were under, you might have been drunk.'"
Aside from her official religious roles in the United Kingdom, Elizabeth personally worships with the Anglican church, regularly attending services at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, at St Mary Magdalene Church when staying at Sandringham House, or at Crathie Kirk when holidaying at Balmoral Castle. Frequently, the Queen will add a personal note about her faith to her annual Royal Christmas Message broadcast to the Commonwealth, such as in the 2000 edition, wherein she spoke about the theological significance of the millennium marking the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ:
"To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me, the teachings of Christ, and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ's words and example."Elizabeth also demonstrated support for inter-faith relations, often meeting with leaders of other religions, and granting her personal patronage to the Council of Christians and Jews.
On three occasions during Elizabeth's reign, she has had to deal with constitutional problems relating the formation of her UK government. In 1957, the absence of a formal mechanism within the Conservative Party for choosing a leader meant that, following the sudden resignation of Sir Anthony Eden, it fell to the Queen to decide whom to commission to form a government. Eden recommended that Elizabeth consult Lord Salisbury (the Lord President of the Council). Lord Salisbury and Lord Kilmuir (the Lord Chancellor) consulted the Cabinet, Winston Churchill and the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, as a result of which the Queen appointed their recommended candidate: Harold Macmillan. Six years later, Macmillan himself resigned and advised the Queen to appoint the Earl of Home as Prime Minister, advice which she followed. In both 1957 and 1963, the Queen came under criticism for appointing the Prime Minister on the advice of a small number of ministers, or a single minister. In 1965, the Conservatives adopted a formal mechanism for choosing a leader, thus relieving her of the duty. In February 1974, an inconclusive general election result meant that, in theory, the outgoing Prime Minister, Edward Heath, whose party had won the popular vote, could stay in office if he formed a coalition government with the Liberals. Rather than immediately resign as Prime Minister, Heath explored this option, and only resigned when discussions on forming a cooperative government foundered, after which the Queen asked the Leader of the Opposition, Labour's Harold Wilson, to form a government.
The Queen meets the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on a regular basis, as well as other British ministers and the First Minister of Scotland. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said in her memoirs: "Anyone who imagines that they are a formality or confined to social niceties is quite wrong; they are quietly business-like and Her Majesty brings to bear a formidable grasp of current issues and breadth of experience." During Thatcher's time as Prime Minister, it was rumoured that Elizabeth was worried that Thatcher's economic policies fostered social divisions, and was reportedly alarmed by high unemployment, a series of riots, and the violence of a miners' strike. Thatcher told Brian Walden, "the Queen is the kind of woman who could vote SDP [Social Democratic Party]." Reports of strained relations between Elizabeth and Thatcher throughout the period varied over the extent of this difference and to what degree it was due to concerns over policy, or a personality clash. The Queen's feelings towards Thatcher were even described as "cordial dislike". Despite such speculation, Thatcher later clearly conveyed her personal admiration for the Queen, and expressed her belief that the idea of animosity between the two of them had been played up because they were both women. In the BBC documentary Queen & Country, Thatcher described the Queen as "marvellous" and "a perfect lady" who "always knows just what to say", referring, in particular, to her final meeting as prime minister with Elizabeth. Belying reports of acrimony between them, after Thatcher retired from politics, Elizabeth conferred on her two personal gifts of the sovereign: the Order of Merit and the Order of the Garter. Both the Queen and Prince Philip attended Thatcher's 80th birthday party.
It was initially thought that Elizabeth had very good relations with Tony Blair, during his first five years as Prime Minister. However, evidence mounted that their relationship had hardened as the years passed, until it was revealed in May 2007 that the Queen was "exasperated and frustrated" by Blair's actions, especially by what she saw as a detachment from rural issues, as well as a too-casual approach (he requested that the Queen call him "Tony") and a contempt for British heritage. Elizabeth was rumoured to have shown concern that the British Armed Forces were overstretched, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as "surprise" over Blair's shifting of their weekly meetings from Tuesday to Wednesday afternoons. She was supposed to have raised these concerns with Blair repeatedly at these meetings, though she never revealed her opinions on the Iraq War itself. Relations between the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and Blair and his wife, Cherie, were reported to be distant, as the two couples shared few common interests. Elizabeth did, however, apparently admire Blair's efforts to achieve peace in Northern Ireland.
Elizabeth's relations with her Canadian prime ministers have varied. Pierre Trudeau seemed to have caused the Queen some concern; Tony Benn said that the Queen expressed to him that she found her Canadian Prime Minister to be "rather disappointing".  This was perhaps due to his documented antics around her, such as sliding down banisters at Buckingham Palace and his famous pirouette behind her back, captured on film in 1977, as well as the removal of various royal symbols from Canada during his tenure as Prime Minister. The Queen was reported, by Paul Martin, Sr., as worrying that the Crown "had little meaning for [Trudeau]." Still, Trudeau advised Elizabeth to attend the 1973 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, held that year in Ottawa; the advice was accepted, and, by several accounts, the meetings were much more productive than the 1971 Singapore conference. It was observed that the Queen performed an important leadership role; the heads of government were much better behaved when she was present.
Martin—who, along with John Roberts and Mark MacGuigan, was sent to the UK in 1980 to discuss the patriation of the Canadian constitution—noted that the Queen took a deep interest in the constitutional debate, especially following the failure of Bill C-60, which affected her role as head of state. The entire party found the Queen "better informed on both the substance and the politics of Canada's constitutional case than any of the British politicians or bureaucrats." However, a result of the constitutional patriation, orchestrated by Trudeau, was the entrenchment of the monarchy within Canada's governing system, after which Trudeau said in his memoirs:
"I always said it was thanks to three women that we were eventually able to reform our Constitution. The Queen, who was favourable, Margaret Thatcher, who undertook to do everything that our Parliament asked of her, and Jean Wadds, who represented the interests of Canada so well in London... The Queen favoured my attempt to reform the Constitution. I was always impressed not only by the grace she displayed in public at all times, but by the wisdom she showed in private conversation."
Former Governor General Jules Léger said of the Queen: "I wonder whether any sovereign was ever so directly informed and consulted by a Canadian Prime Minister. In any event, during my term of office, each one of the Queen's visits and the several meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers... made possible a continuous personal exchange of information and views between Her Majesty, the Prime Minister, and the Governor General. These personal communications made consensus rather easy whenever a decision had to be taken on any matter of common interest. And it is this practice which, I believe allowed Her Majesty to play a real part in the government of Canada."
Elizabeth II established numerous friendships, described as warm and informal, with foreign leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, Mary Robinson, and George W. Bush. Mary McAleese, the President of Ireland, recounted her shock when, at the time she was Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University of Belfast, she was invited to lunch with Elizabeth and Prince Philip as a chance for the Queen to talk to her as a Northern Ireland nationalist and hear her views on Anglo-Irish relations. The two women struck up an instant rapport, after which McAleese, during the 1997 Irish presidential election, and in an Irish Independent interview, called Elizabeth "a dote", a Hiberno-English term meaning "really lovely person". Mandela was heard on film in a BBC documentary referring to the Queen as "my friend, Elizabeth".
See main article: List of titles and honours of Queen Elizabeth II.
Elizabeth has held a number of titles throughout her life, as granddaughter of the monarch, as a daughter of the monarch, through her husband's titles, and eventually as sovereign of multiple states. In common practice, she is referred to most often as simply The Queen or Her Majesty; if a distinction is necessary, this may be modified to be Her Britannic Majesty, Her Australian Majesty, Her Canadian Majesty, etc., as is called for. When in conversation with the Queen, the practice is to initially address her as Your Majesty and thereafter as Ma'am.
Following tradition, she is additionally titled Duke of Lancaster and Duke of Normandy, and is also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of many of her realms, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom, and is styled Defender of the Faith in various realms for differing reasons.
In her position as sovereign of multiple states, Elizabeth automatically holds the position of Commander-in-Chief in some of her realms, such as Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. In the latter, she also serves as Commandant-in-Chief of the Royal Air Force and Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy. Elizabeth has been installed as Colonel-in-Chief, Captain-General, Air-Commodore-in-Chief, Commissioner, Brigadier, Commandant-in-Chief, and Royal Colonel of at least 96 regiments throughout the Commonwealth, both before and after her accession.
As a long reigning and widely travelled monarch, Elizabeth has received a great many honours and awards from countries around the world.
See main article: Flags and coats of arms of Elizabeth II. From 21 April 1944 until her marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Elizabeth's arms consisted of a lozenge bearing the same charges as the shield of the Royal coat of arms, and a label of three points argent, the centre bearing a Tudor Rose and the first and third a cross of St George. Following her marriage, these arms were impaled with those of the Duke of Edinburgh; she held these until her accession as queen, after which, as the sovereign of each of the Commonwealth realms, she acquired the arms of the monarch of each of those countries, in most cases formally known as the Arms of Her Majesty in Right of [Country] or the Royal Arms of [Country]. The governments of the realms use these arms as symbols of the authority of the Crown.
Similarly, Elizabeth bears a number of personal flags for use in some of her realms: two in the United Kingdom (one for Scotland and another for all other areas), and one each for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, and Barbados. These consist of the banners of the associated Royal Arms, all, save for those of the UK, defaced with Elizabeth's personal badge: a crowned letter E within a circle of roses on a blue disk. This same badge is also used as the Queen's personal flag for her role as Head of the Commonwealth, or for visiting Commonwealth countries where she is not head of state.
|Prince Charles, Prince of Wales||14 November 1948||29 July 1981||Lady Diana Spencer||Prince William of Wales|
Prince Henry of Wales
|28 August 1996|
|9 April 2005||Camilla Parker-Bowles|
|Princess Anne, Princess Royal||15 August 1950||14 November 1973||Mark Phillips||Peter Phillips|
|28 April 1992|
|12 December 1992||Timothy Laurence|
|Prince Andrew, Duke of York||19 February 1960||23 July 1986||Sarah Ferguson||Princess Beatrice of York|
Princess Eugenie of York
|30 May 1996|
|Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex||10 March 1964||19 June 1999||Sophie Rhys-Jones||Lady Louise Windsor|