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Queen Elizabeth II

15 historical moments in the life and reign of the Queen

Image: Queen Elizabeth II greeting NASA employees at the Goddard Space Flight Center in 2007 | Wikimedia | Public Domain

Queen Elizabeth II was Britain’s longest-ruling monarch, but just how many historical moments did the Queen live through in her 96 years. From the Wall Street crash of 1929, to the first picture of a supermassive black hole: Elizabeth's reign witnessed nearly a century of landmark moments in history. Here are fifteen historical moments from the life of Queen Elizabeth II.

1926: The invention of colour TV

Just months after the birth of the queen John Logie Baird demonstrates the first example of the colour TV to the public. Shortly after the first transatlantic transmission takes place between London and New York making history. You can find out more about John Logie Baird and other Scottish inventors here.

1929: Women given the same rights to vote as men

Following years of campaigning by the suffragettes, women in England, Scotland, and Wales were given the same voting rights as men (over the age of 21).

1936: King George V dies, King Edward VIII ascension and abdication, and King George VI

In a year that changed young Elizabeth’s life forever, her grandfather King George V dies of lung disease. Having reigned for just under 26 years, his son Edward ascends to the throne and becomes King of the British Empire. He remains on the throne for less than a year and abdicates in December following a constitutional crisis surrounding his wish to marry Wallace Simpson. His reign of 326 days is one of the shortest in British history.

Following Edward’s abdication, King George VI ascends the throne. Elizabeth goes from a background royal to successor to the British throne overnight. A busy year for the Royal family!

1939: Britain declares war on Germany

Following the invasion of Poland by Germany, Britain declares war and enters into the Second World War.

1940: Buckingham Palace bombed with the King and Queen in residence

Buckingham Palace had been targeted many times during the blitz with little success, but on September 13th 1940 part of the palace was destroyed by a German bomber. Despite the level of damage done to the castle, a few workmen were injured, and the King and Queen remained unharmed. Elizabeth and her sister Margaret were away from the palace having been moved to Windsor and eventually Birkhall Estate at the start of the war.

1947: India declares independence from Britain and is partitioned

On August 15 1947 British rule of India ended and the partition of India and Pakistan was established.

1948: NHS launched and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is created

Launched from Manchester General Hospital on 5 July 1948, the National Health Service has gone on to revolutionise the state of care and medicine in the UK. Later the same year the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created outlining the basic needs and rights of all human beings.

1963: Assassination of President Kennedy

While riding through Dealy Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas, President Kennedy was fatally shot by Lee Harvey Oswald.

1969: Man walks on the moon

July 1969 was the culmination of the space race between the USA and USSR. Both eager to be the first to set a man on the moon, on 20 July Neil Armstrong was the first man to take that giant leap for mankind. Following closely behind Armstrong was Aldrin who described the scene in front of the pair as magnificent desolation.

1971: First email is sent

Ushering a new era of communication, surprisingly the first email was sent before Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web!

1986: Chernobyl Disaster

In the early hours, a massive explosion ripped through reactor no. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. With the state of the cold war and growing tension between the USA and USSR, the Soviet Union tried to keep the scale of Chernobyl under wraps with a closure of the borders and media blackout.

The series of ill-fated choices leading up to the accident, along with criticisms of the response of the Soviet Union to the crisis are often earmarked as the beginning of the Union’s downfall.

1989: Demolition of the Berlin Wall

Marking the fall of the Iron Curtain and the ensuing end of communism in central and eastern Europe, the demolition of the Berlin Wall. In its 28-year history, more than 100 people died trying to cross the wall into West Germany. The rest of the inner German Border fell shortly afterwards.

1996: First successful clone created

The first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell, Dolly was born on July 5th 1996. Proof that mammals could be cloned using cells, Dolly was created using the mammary gland cell of one sheep, and an egg from another. She was named for Dolly Parton on account of the origins of her DNA.

1997: Hong Kong and the end of the British Empire

Hong Kong, a former British Colony, was returned to China in 1997. However before the transition took place China agreed that it would make 'one country, two systems' constitutional ensuring that despite the country being handed over to China, they would guarantee that Hong Kong’s economical and political systems would not be changed for fifty years after the handover. This meant that Hong Kong remained a capitalist state, despite China’s communist rule.

2001: September 11th Terrorist Attacks

A series of four coordinated attacks on American soil by Al-Qaeda, the incidents of Tuesday 11th September 2001 were felt around the world. The attacks led to a major shift in the American administration. Its effects are still felt worldwide today with the ongoing War on Terrorism that was launched in retaliation to the 9/11 attacks.