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Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II visits Liverpool Albert Dock during her Diamond Jubilee tour of Great Britain

The life of Queen Elizabeth II: Britain's longest-serving monarch

Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II visits Liverpool Albert Dock during her Diamond Jubilee tour of Great Britain | Image: Shaun Jeffers /

During her 70-year-reign, the Queen ruled over 15 British prime ministers and witnessed a monumental shift in British society. As we mark the end of an era, let's look back at the life and achievements of Queen Elizabeth II and bid farewell to one of our greatest monarchs.

Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926, was the elder daughter of King George VI (then Duke of York) and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Known to her family as Lilibet, Elizabeth was groomed as a girl to succeed her father.

Elizabeth was still a Princess when she married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in November 1947. They had four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Aged 25 she inherited the British throne upon the death of her father, King George VI, also becoming Queen of became queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries.

After mourning him for a year, a lavish coronation celebration was held for her at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. A thousand dignitaries and guests attended the ceremony; millions listened on radio and, for the first time, watched the proceedings on live television.

From the start of her reign, Elizabeth understood the value of public relations and allowed her 1953 coronation to be televised, despite objections from Prime Minister Winston Churchill and others who felt it would cheapen the ceremony.

The Queen is the most widely-travelled head of state in history. From 1953 to 1954 she and Prince Philip made a six-month, around the world tour, becoming the first European monarch to circumnavigate the globe. She also became the first reigning monarch of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji to visit those nations.

In 2012, the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, marking the 60th anniversary of her accession on 6 February 1952. Only one other monarch, Queen Victoria has achieved that milestone in 1897.

10 years later she became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. To mark the momentous occasion, jubilee beacons were lit in every capital city throughout the Commonwealth for the first time. The main celebrations took place across a four-day weekend throughout the United Kingdom with a special thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral, Trooping the Colour, and the 'Platinum Party at the Palace' outside Buckingham Palace.

Her popularity among British people has remained extremely high, hitting 90% in her Diamond Jubilee year largely thanks to her dedication to charitable causes as patron of more than 600 charities and other organisations. Globally she became a popular figure around the world.

British society has changed irrevocably since she first ascended the throne and her reign has encompassed many landmark events, from Suez, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, to the Falklands War and 9/11. However, throughout all these many tumultuous events she has remained a reassuring and constant presence for the country, the only monarch most British people have ever known in their lifetimes.