Yesterday I celebrated the birthday of my most favorite person I’ve ever met, my mother. Today I celebrate the birthday my most favorite person I have not met (though someday I hope I will): Her Majesty, Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and the Realms Beyond the Sea (etc.). Eighty-six years ago today (that’s 1926, for those of us who don’t do math) she was born at 17 Bruton Street in London, which was the Earl of Strathmore’s (her maternal grandfather’s) home. Of course, her paternal grandfather was King George V, while little Elizabeth’s father was the King’s second son, Albert Edward (“Bertie”), Duke of York.
The above is one of the most beautiful portraits of the little Princess Elizabeth of York, age three. She was known as “Lilibet” to the family, once her sister, Princess Margaret, was born and could not properly pronounce Elizabeth’s name.
Due to the publicity of last year’s Royal Wedding, most people now know that Elizabeth was never supposed to become queen, but came to the position through some unexpected events. King George V died in January of 1936 and his eldest son became Edward VIII; however, Edward VIII was in love with and wanted to marry a now world-famous woman, Wallis Simpson, who was divorced. Edward VIII abdicated, since the Church of England did not allow members of the Royal Family to marry divorcees (I always thought this was interesting, since the Church of England was formed because Henry VIII wanted an annulment–a divorce–back in 1533). Elizabeth’s father became George VI after his brother abdicated.
If you think George VI looks glum up there, it’s because he probably was. Again thanks to popular culture and the popularity of The King’s Speech, most people also now know that George VI was a reluctant king, only taking his brother’s discarded crown because he had no other option. What is not as well known is that George V once made the statement, “I pray to God that my youngest son will never marry, so that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne.” This always makes me wonder Then why didn’t you prepare him for the task ahead??? Even with George VI’s untrained hand, he ruled well and saw his country through the grim days of World War II.
Elizabeth became queen on February 6th, 1952, when her father died. She was crowned on June 2nd, 1953. My father’s birthday is June 12th, 1953, so I always wish he could have come out ten days sooner to have the dates coincide (you think I’m joking…).
Over the years Her Majesty has proved herself a confident, steady, and kind monarch. She has four children and eight grandchildren. As of this year she has two great-grandchildren as well. Her family say that her constant support is her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. She is, I believe, one of the most widely respected people in the world.
Happy birthday, Your Majesty!