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Princess Elizabeth playing the piano in Buckingham Palace on July 19, 1946. (Photo by Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II: A life in pictures

Queen Elizabeth II: A life in pictures

Princess Elizabeth playing the piano in Buckingham Palace on July 19, 1946. (Photo by Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A collection of photography from the life and reign of Britain’s longest serving monarch

There are few in Britain today who can remember a time before Queen Elizabeth II. Many of the events and people who are also in these photographs now seem as if they are from another, long-forgotten era: one image depicts Princess Elizabeth changing a car wheel while serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the Second World War. In another she meets Marylin Monroe, a figure we now think of as belonging firmly in history but who was in fact the same age as the Queen, both born in 1926. She is captured here as a child with her grandfather King George V and father, George VI, who led Britain through the First and Second World Wars.

This collection of photographs shows her throughout her 96 years – an ever-present on the global stage for almost a century.

Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret with their parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth inspecting the Royal Company of Archers at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh.
Princess Elizabeth with grandfather King George V and grandmother Queen Mary of Teck riding in a carriage back to Balmoral Castle from Crathie Kirk, Scotland, 1935.
Princess Elizabeth exercising one of her Corgi dogs in London’s Hyde Park. Elizabeth fell in love with the breed when she was a child, when her father King George VI brought home their first Corgi, Dookie, in 1933.
Princess Elizabeth and her younger sister Margaret working on paintings in the school room of Buckingham Palace.
Meeting a land girl at harvest time in Sandringham, Norfolk, 1943.
During the Second World War Princess Elizabeth served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. Here she learns how to change a car wheel, 1945.
Crown Princess Elizabeth plays tag with midshipmen while on board the HMS Vanguard. The princess was travelling with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth for the royal visit to South Africa. She was secretly engaged to Philip
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Buckingham Palace after their wedding, 20 November 1947. The Princess wore an ivory satin Norman Hartnell, with a 15-foot fan-shaped train. Philip and Elizabeth had first met at the Britannia Royal Naval College in 1939, and exchanged letters throughout the Second World War.
In 1948 Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip announced the birth of their first child, Charles, followed by their daughter Anne in 1950. Here the young family is pictured in 1951.
Princess Elizabeth represents her father, King George VI, in June 1951 at the Trooping of the Colour – a parade of 1,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians to mark the Sovereign’s official birthday.
Princess Elizabeth with Prince Charles and Princess Anne in the grounds of Balmoral Castle, Scotland, as Charles celebrates his fourth birthday. Balmoral was the Queen’s summer home – and one of her favourite places. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, purchased Balmoral Castle in 1846, and the small castle which stood in the 7,000 hectare wooded estate was redeveloped in the 1850s.
Princess Elizabeth at Balmoral Castle in 1952 with Susan, her first Corgi, given to her when she was 18. Over the course of her life the Queen owned a total of 30 corgis and dorgis.
Princess Elizabeth watches her son Prince Charles, aged three, playing in his toy car while at Balmoral.
Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne after the death of her father, King George VI, in February 1952. She was coronated over a year later, in June 1953, in order for an appropriate amount of time to pass after the sovereign’s death. Pictured here wearing the Imperial state Crown and carrying the Orb and sceptre, the new Queen leaves the state coach and enters Buckingham Palace after the coronation ceremony.
Queen Elizabeth II pictured with Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Lady Mountbatten at the Marsa Polo ground, Malta, while on a royal tour of the island, at that point still a British colony. 1953 and 1954 saw the Queen embark on several royal tours of colonies and Commonwealth nations.
Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne and Prince Charles on horseback, 1956. Throughout her life, the Queen had a passion for horses and racing.
Queen Elizabeth II inspects men of the newly-renamed Queen’s Own Nigeria Regiment, Royal West African Frontier Force, at Kaduna Airport, Nigeria in February 1956. Nigeria would go on to declare independence from the United Kingdom four years later.
Queen Elizabeth II offers a gloved hand to Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe during the Queen’s visit with celebrities at the Royal Film Performance. Standing beside Marilyn is actor Victor Mature. The Queen and Monroe were the same age.
Queen Elizabeth II driving her children Prince Charles and Princess Anne at Windsor, 1957. Windsor Castle is where the Queen spends most of her private weekends.
Elizabeth II in New York City on her first state visit to the United States in 1957, where she was hosted by Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States. During her reign the Queen met 13 US presidents.
Prince Andrew as a baby in 1960 with his parents and siblings Anne and Charles on a picnic rug outside Balmoral Castle.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in New Delhi during their first royal tour of India, January 1961.

In 1961 Queen Elizabeth embarked on a royal tour of Nepal. Here the Queen is seated on an elephant during a tiger hunt.
Greeting crowds of residents in New Zealand in February 1963.
The Queen and Prince Philip visit Aberfan to comfort the families of the victims of the 1966 colliery disaster which destroyed a school and a row of houses, killing 116 children and 28 adults.
Alongside her Corgis, the Queen also kept labradors. Here the Queen is pictured with her dog Wren at the Open Stake Retriever Trials at Balmoral, 1967.
Walking in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip fly back from a visit to Yorkshire, in a photo taken during the filming of Royal Family (1969), the joint ITV-BBC film documentary. The film attracted an audience of 30 million in the UK, although the Queen later had the film banned.
The royal family at Windsor, 1969
Queen Elizabeth chats with jockeys Ron Quinton and Hilton Cope before the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick race course near Sydney, during her tour of Australia in 1970. The Queen was perhaps the best-known horse racing supporter in the world.
With Prime Minister Edward Heath, US president Richard Nixon and first lady Patricia Nixon at Chequers, 1970. Nixon was the Queen’s fifth president.

The Queen in her coach on her way to the State Opening of Parliament on 1 November 1971. The Queen’s Speech lays out the government’s agenda for the parliament and marks the formal start of the parliamentary year. Queen Elizabeth opened every parliament of her reign bar three – 1959, 1963 and 2022.

Queen Elizabeth II with Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta and his wife in Nairobi, 1972. Kenya had secured independence in 1963 and became a republic in 1964; yet it remained a member of the Commonwealth.
The Queen monarch is taking time out from watching the Marathon Coaching Event of the Royal Windsor Horse Show – in which Prince Philip is participating – to spend time with her beloved corgis in Virginia Water, 1973.
The Queen Elizabeth arrives at Aberdeen Airport with her corgis to start her holidays in Balmoral, 1974.
The Queen in Hong Kong during a royal tour in 1975. At that point the island was still a British territory.

The Queen reviews troops on her arrival in Brisbane during her Jubilee tour, 1977.
The Queen, undeterred by the weather, presents prizes at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
The Queen talks with the Emir Of Bahrain, Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, during horse and camel racing in Bahrain.
The Queen attends the Royal Windsor Horse Show, 1980.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their wedding day.
US president Ronald Reagan laughs at a joke by the Queen about the lousy weather in California, the president’s home state, during a state dinner at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.
The Queen and Prince Philip join Nancy Reagan on the red carpet at 20th Century Fox studios in Los Angeles, 1983.
The Queen rides sidesaddle during Trooping the Colour ceremony marking her official birthday.
Bodyguard Jim Beaton (on the Queen’s left) was shot while protecting Princess Anne from an assassin in The Mall in 1974.
The Queen attends a banquet held in her honour during a visit to Peking, China, 1986.
The Queen with her grandsons, William and Harry in the Royal Box at Guards Polo Club, Windsor, 1987.
Gathering outside Clarence House on the Queen Mother’s 90th Birthday, 1990.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh ride along the Mall in an open top car as part of the Golden Jubilee celebration in June 2002.
The Queen and Prince Charles watch competitors during the Braemar Gathering at the Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park in Braemar, Scotland, 2006. For the last 900 years crowds have attended annually to acclaim their monarch and Chieftain of the Braemar Gathering.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh walk at Broadlands, Hampshire in 2007, the year of their Diamond wedding anniversary.
The Queen travels down the Mall, from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, in the horse drawn Irish State Coach to attend the State Opening of Parliament, 2007.
The royal family gather at Clarence House for a dinner hosted by the Prince of Wales the Duchess of Cornwall to mark the forthcoming Diamond Wedding Anniversary of The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, 2007.
The Queen presents the Prince of Wales with the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour during a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show, 2009.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive to open the Sainsbury Laboratory for Plant Sciences in the University of Cambridge Botanic Garden, 2011.
The Queen Elizabeth II attends a service for the Order of the British Empire at St Paul’s Cathedral, 2012.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh wear 3D glasses to watch a display and pilot a JCB digger, during a visit to the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research centre, 2010.
Emirati Minister of State Reem al-Hashemi and cultural guide Fatima al-Melhi (left) speaking to Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, 2010.
The Queen signs the visitor book prior to departing Hillsborough Castle, on the third and final day of her visit to Northern Ireland, 2014.
The Queen and Prince Harry attend at the annual Chelsea Flower show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, 2015.
The Queen and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, chat to each other in the Royal Box at the Royal Albert Hall during the Annual Festival of Remembrance, 2015.
The Queen, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force from the balcony of Buckingham Palace , 2018.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh wait for the carriage carrying Princess Eugenie of York and her husband Jack Brooksbank after their wedding ceremony at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, 2018.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge watch the RAF flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, 2018.
The Queen attends the Royal Windsor Cup polo match, 2021.
Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021. He died aged 99 on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. Only 30 guests were invited due to Covid restrictions.
The Queen attends a military parade, held by the Household Division in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle, to mark her Official Birthday on June 12, 2021 in Windsor, England. Covid-19 prevented Trooping the Colour from going ahead in it’s traditional form in 2020 and 2021.
The Queen in a Range Rover as she attends the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Home Park, Windsor Castle, 2021.
The Queen celebrates the start of the Platinum Jubilee during a reception in the Ballroom of Sandringham House in King’s Lynn, 2022.

Photographs by Fox Photos, Topical Press, London Express, Lisa Sheridan, Hulton Archive, Keystone, UPI, Popperfoto, Hulton-Deutsch, Magnum, Central Press, Bettmann, Lichfield, Tim Graham, Fiona Hanson, Getty Images