HM Queen Elizabeth II: An A-Z Of Royal Life
HM Queen Elizabeth II: An A-Z Of Royal Life

HM Queen Elizabeth II: An A-Z Of Royal Life

In honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we thought we’d take a moment to look back over her extraordinary life – from A-Z – to see what makes Britain’s longest serving monarch so irreplaceable…
By Harriet Russell


The abdication of Edward VIII in late 1936 marked a pivotal event in the life of Queen Elizabeth II. Had Edward not given up the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, George VI – Elizabeth’s father – would never have been crowned, nor his daughters become direct heirs in the line of succession.


In 1964 – just over a decade into the Queen’s reign – Anthony Blunt, who had accepted the job of Surveyor of the King's Pictures in 1945, admitted to having been a spy for the Soviet Union. A fourth member of the Cambridge Five, his confession came after he was offered immunity from prosecution. The event is said to have shaken the monarch, with events depicted in an early series of The Crown.


On a par with her love of horses, the Queen’s affinity for corgis has been well documented throughout her life. A fondness inherited from her parents, she currently owns two corgis, a cocker spaniel and one dorgi – Candy, who is also the eldest. 


Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer on 29th July 1981 – the start of one of the Royal Family’s most controversial and dramatic marriages. Her death in 1997 in a car crash in Paris fell during a troubled decade for the Queen, during which three of her four children’s marriages ended in divorce and Windsor Castle caught fire.

Essie ‘Ballet Slippers’

The Queen is said to enjoy wearing this neutral shade on her nails, with Kate Middleton also sporting a similarly pale pink manicure on her wedding day in 2011. Nearly 30 years ago, the Queen’s hairdresser apparently wrote a letter to Essie Weingarten in 1989 asking for a bottle and the rest, as they say, is history.



Falklands War

On 20th May 2022, Queen Elizabeth made Port Stanley a city to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War. There are also seven other places across the UK to have been given city status to celebrate the Jubilee, including Milton Keynes, Wrexham in Wales and Bangor in Northern Ireland.


The affectionate nickname given to the monarch by Prince George put a smile on the nation’s face back in 2016 when Kate Middleton revealed the sweet anecdote about her eldest son's relationship with his great grandmother as part of the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations.


One of the Queen’s most defining features is her black Launer handbag. It’s believed she owns close to 200 of them, with her favourite styles said to be the black leather Royale, black patent leather Traviata and a third custom bag made specially for her. 


In 2019, the Queen joined social media by launching the @TheRoyalFamily account. Having quickly amassed more than 10m followers, the only royal account to surpass this figure is the Cambridges – who have 13.6m followers on the platform. 

James Bond

No one can forget the iconic moment during the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony when the Queen “jumped” out of an aeroplane with Daniel Craig – or James Bond. The only stipulation she had prior to the ceremony was that no one else in the family should know about the stunt ahead of time. 




Princess Elizabeth and her new husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, were on a tour of Kenya when her father, George VI died. It was Philip who broke the news to her beside a trout stream at around 2.45pm on 6th February, informing her she was now Queen and head of the Commonwealth.


As the country cowered in the face of Covid-19 back in early 2020, it was the Queen who offered comfort to millions on the night of 5th April via a television broadcast, which was watched by 23.97m viewers. 


The Queen is known for weathering destabilising events – most recently when her grandson Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle stepped back from royal life and moved to Montecito, California to raise their two children.  Harry and Meghan will return to the UK this week with Archie and Lilibet to take part in the Jubilee celebrations.

Norman Hartnell

Fashion designer Norman Hartnell earned the Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to the Queen Mother in 1940, and the same to Queen Elizabeth II in 1957. Responsible for both the Queen’s wedding dress and coronation gown, Princess Beatrice also wore a dress designed by Hartnell for the Queen for her own wedding in 2020.

Overseas Tours

The Queen is officially the most well-travelled monarch in history. Having visited 110 countries across six continents and made close to 100 official state visits since 1952, her most recent trip was to Germany in 2015, stopping off at Berlin, Frankfurt and Celle.




“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.” These were the words spoken by the Queen in 1997 to mark her and Prince Philip’s golden wedding anniversary. The couple were eventually married for 74 years at the time of his death in April 2021, sharing four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Queen Mother

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was herself Queen from December 1936 toFebruary 1952 as the wife of King George VI. She then lived to the age of 101, witnessing five decades of her own daughter’s reign, until her death in March 2002. On the eve of the Queen Mother's funeral, the monarch addressed the nation saying, “Over the years, I have met many people who have had to cope with family loss, sometimes in the most tragic of circumstances. So, I count myself fortunate that my mother was blessed with a long and happy life.”


Long before she became queen, Elizabeth made her first public speech on 13th October 1940, with a radio address to the children of the Commonwealth, many of whom were living away from home due to war. Her younger sister, Princess Margaret, joined in at the end too.

September 11th

Following her “disbelief and total shock” at the events that took place in New York back in 2001, the Queen personally authorised the US national anthem to be played at the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace – the first time in history another country’s anthem was played during the ceremony. Traffic on The Mall even came to a halt during the tribute.

The Commonwealth

The role of the Commonwealth over the last 70 years has been a pivotal part – and some would argue achievement – of the Queen’s reign. Now entering a new phase as more countries express a desire to leave the group, the Queen still remains a symbolic monarch of 14 other countries besides the UK.



Unionists Vs. Nationalists

The Troubles in Northern Ireland lasted for more than 30 years of the Queen’s reign, with the IRA assassinating Lord Louis Mountbatten – Elizabeth’s beloved uncle – in 1979, when he was aboard a fishing boat with several other members of his family and friends near his holiday home in County Sligo.

VE Day

The Royal Family remained at Buckingham Palace throughout the war, and on 8th May 1945, the Queen – then Princess Elizabeth – and her sister Margaret slipped out to join the festivities as Londoners celebrated victory in Europe. Describing it in 1985 as ‘one of the most memorable’ nights of her life, the event was later immortalised in the film A Royal Night Out.

Welsh Mining Disaster

While the Queen isn’t said to be the sentimental sort, the one regret she does have is not visiting the devastated Welsh mining town of Aberfan after the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip killed 116 children and 28 adults in 1966. She did eventually visit the community eight days after the disaster – initially fearing her presence would only make things worse – but agrees in hindsight that she should have gone sooner.


Suffice to say the Queen has had to put up with a fair share of scandal during her reign – notably Prince Philip’s early party days, Fergie’s ‘toe-sucking’ incident and the infamous telephone transcript between Prince Charles and his then-mistress Camilla Parker-Bowles. 


In late 2019, the Queen’s long-time dresser and confidante Angela Kelly released The Other Side Of The Coin – a book detailing the clothes, jewellery and accessories worn by the monarch throughout her reign. Yellow is said to be one of her preferred shades – she typically dresses in bright colours so crowds (and her security) will be able to spot her on walkabouts. Most recently, she wore one of her favourite yellow ensembles to open London’s new Elizabeth Line. 


This might not be the first word that comes to mind when thinking of the Queen, but it’s a little-known fact that Britain’s zoos have been tasked with looking after animals the monarch has received as gifts – including a pair of sloths, a black beaver and a jaguar.

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