Queen Elizabeth II and her destiny

How the reigning British Monarch came into the throne? 

Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, the current British Monarch is a direct descendant of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and King Christian IX of Denmark. On the day she was born, there was no curiosity generated from the public due to the fact that she was not expected to ascend the British throne. 

Her father, Prince Bertie, was then the Duke of York and only second in line to the throne after his older brother, Prince David, the Prince of Wales. It was thought possible that her uncle David would eventually marry and have children, more than that, her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, planned a larger family and in the event of many sons, Elizabeth would be ranked below them and their children and would be placed farther from the line of succession.

But destiny worked on her side and secured her place in World history.

The future Queen was born at her maternal grandparents' (Lord and Lady Strathmore) London home at 17 Bruton Street near Berkeley square in Mayfair, London. She was delivered through a caesarian section and witnessed by a home secretary, Sir William Johnson-Hicks (this archaic law of monarchy, where a home secretary is required to witness the birth of all royal children, is to ensure the legitimacy of a child in the succession)

Elizabeth was christened at the private chapel of Buckingham palace on May 19, 1926. She was nicknamed "Lilibet". In 1930 her only sibling, Princess Margaret, was born at the Strathmore's ancestral home in Glamis Castle, Scotland. The two little Princesses were comfortably raised at 145 Piccadilly, London, they also had a country home called Royal Lodge which is located near Windsor Great Park. As with most members of the British Royal Family, Princess Elizabeth grew up fascinated with horses, she started her riding lesson at the age of three.

Prince Bertie treasured his family whom he dubbed “Us four”. He was not fun of pomp and pageantry and just enjoyed spending most of his free time with his daughters and relying on the strength of his strong-willed wife, the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. As second in line to the throne, Prince Bertie was not expected to carry many royal engagements because those were reserved for the heir apparent, but the feckless behavior of the Prince of Wales, who at 38 is still single and enjoyed the company of sophisticated married women, became a great concern to his father, King George V. By that time, the heir apparent was intensely involved with Wallis Simpson, a commoner American woman, once divorced and whom the present husband is preoccupied elsewhere.

The King had wished to pass the throne to his second son, but the law on primogeniture succession barred the Duke of York from succeeding while the Prince of Wales is still alive. In January 1936 the King died from Pneumonia, David immediately ascended as King Edward VIII, several months later, his love affair to Mrs. Simpson became known to the press and Buckingham palace officials warned the new king that such an illicit affair could endanger the monarchy.

The conservative Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, threatened to resign if Edward will proceed in marriage with Mrs. Simpson. For a throne who revered myth and tradition, it is inconceivable for a disgraced commoner woman with two living husbands be crowned as Queen of the British Empire. Edward insisted that he will be supported by public opinion, so the Prime Minister consulted all the ministers of the Commonwealth and the result was unanimous: either abdicate or abandon Mrs. Simpson.

Edward chose his lover over duty and tradition, on the snowy morning of December 11, 1936, his booming voice echoed through out the world announcing his voluntary abdication: "It is impossible for me to carry my duty as a leader to my people without the support of the woman I love". Queen Mary was furious that she made sure Wallis won't receive a royal highness status. 

When his brother announced his final farewell to his people, the Duke of York, now the newly ascended King of the United Kingdom, rushed to his mother's house (Queen Mary moved to Marlborough's house after George V’s funeral) and, according to his diary entry: "I cried in mama's lap like a baby". Nevertheless, he carried on well, he preferred to be known as George VI in honour of his father, George V.

Princess Elizabeth did not attend a proper day school but was only tutored at home. She grew up closer to her only sibling, the Princess Margaret. She never attended parties and had a limited circle of friends, mostly aristocrats and royal cousins. 

In 1939, she had a close encounter with her third cousin, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, whom she became close in later years. They eventually get married on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey. 

Prince Philip was serving the British Royal Navy as Lieutenant. He was 7th in line to the Greek throne when the courtship period began but he was advised to renounce his Greek royal title to be more acceptable to the British people, so the dashing Prince agreed, he also switched his religion from Greek Orthodox to Anglican. 

He adopted his maternal grandfather's name Mountbatten (Mountbatten is an anglicized version of Battenberg) and became a British subject a year before the royal marriage took place. Philip was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich with HRH status. They had four children: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh were in Kenya when they received the news of King George VI’s death from coronary thrombosis on the night of February 9, 1952. Princess Elizabeth was summoned by her private secretary at her hotel room in Kenya to take an oath of accession. She was the first British monarch, after King George I in 1720, who ascended the throne outside Great Britain. She left England a Princess and returned a Queen. 

After her father's burial, she and her family moved to Buckingham Palace from Clarence House. She was officially crowned on June 1,1953 in a glittering ceremony at Westminster Abbey attended by foreign dignitaries. It was the first British monarch’s coronation broadcasted worldwide via television.

Queen Elizabeth II is a ruling sovereign not only to the United Kingdom but to all her territories and realms belonging to the British Commonwealth of Nations, she is recognized as head of state by the countries under the Commonwealth realms, her role is purely ceremonial, she ruled but not governed, she should be above politics, but her role is formidable, she can dissolve parliaments and declare war, she can pardon offenders. The citizen of the commonwealth realms swore allegiance not to the country but to her, the royal armed forces are serving under her name.

Her Majesty announced in 1960 that unlike other women in the realms, she would not reign under her husband's name, Mountbatten, but continued to be known as family of Windsor, but she emphasized that all her descendants other than Princes and Princesses would bear and carry the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.

As of 2010, the Queen has been serving the United Kingdom as ruling sovereign for 58 years and at the age of 84 is still actively gracing public engagements with her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. 

She is unlikely to abdicate, and for the next years to come, she would continue to rule Britain and its realms with dedication and her subjects would continue singing the national anthem, “God Save our Gracious Queen”. Her Majesty is currently the longest reigning monarch in Europe.


Chronicles of the British Royal Family
Royal Sisters by Anne Edwards
www.royal.gov.uk (official site of the British Monarchy)

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