Queen Elizabeth death: The monarch's 70 years on the throne

·Contributor
·7-min read

Queen Elizabeth II reached 70 years on the throne before the longest-serving monarch died aged 96.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

Her eldest son Charles is now King.

He released a statement shortly after the death of his mother, saying: “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother."

As we pay tribute to the Queen's seven decades of service, here's a look back at the highs and lows of Britain's longest-reigning monarch.

Dressed in pink and white suiting and a pink and white hat with blossom decorations, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II turns 96 years of age. Queen Elizabeth II during a garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 29, 2019 in London, England, UK.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II turned 96 on April 21. Photo: Getty Images

The Queen ascended to the throne following the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952. During her time on the throne, she remarked on how much the world has changed in that time.

"As I look ahead with a sense of hope and optimism to the year of my Platinum Jubilee, I am reminded of how much we can be thankful for," she said in her official Platinum Jubilee statement earlier this year.

"These last seven decades have seen extraordinary progress socially, technologically and culturally that have benefitted us all; and I am confident that the future will offer similar opportunities to us and especially to the younger generations in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth."

Queen Elizabeth, then Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on a bridge in the grounds of Sagana Lodge, their wedding present from the people of Kenya, 5th February 1952. The following day, news would arrive of the death of King George VI and Elizabeth's accession to the throne.
Queen Elizabeth, then Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on a bridge in the grounds of Sagana Lodge in Kenya, on February 5, 1952. The following day, news would arrive of the death of her father, King George VI. Photo: Getty Images

Elizabeth and her husband, Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, were in Kenya as part of their royal tour when news came her father had passed away in February 1952.

She was just 25 years old and a mother-of-two, but from that moment, Elizabeth became Queen of the UK and 15 Commonwealth realms, including Australia.

Elizabeth II after her coronation with a family group at Buckingham Palace. (Left to right) Prince Michael, the Duke of Kent, the Duchess of Kent, Crown Princess Marthe of Norway, Crown Prince Olaf of Norway, Princess Margaret, the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the Earl of Athlone, the Duke of Gloucester, the Princess Royal, the Earl of Harewood, Prince Richard, the Duchess of Gloucester, Prince William, and Princess Alice Countess of Athlone.
The coronation of Elizabeth II took place on June 2, 1953, at Westminster Abbey in London. Photo: Getty

Her coronation was held the following year on June 2, 1953.

Elizabeth had to decide what surname she and her heirs would adopt, with House of Mountbatten (Philip's surname) and House of Edinburgh (after Philip's title) considered.

However, after insistence from her grandmother Queen Mary and the Prime Minister of the time, Winston Churchill, House of Windsor was kept.

This prompted the quip from Prince Philip: "I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children."

Group captain Peter Townsend in a suit, holding his hat, and Princess Margaret in a white dress, white gloves and white hat stand at the fence at the races in the 1950s
Group captain Peter Townsend and Princess Margaret at the races. Photo: Getty Images

One of the first difficult decisions Elizabeth had to make in the year of her coronation was whether to grant permission for her sister, Princess Margaret, to marry divorcee Peter Townsend, who was 16 years Margaret's senior.

She asked her sister to wait a year, but with the Church of England not permitting remarriage after divorce and politicians against the union, Margaret was left with the options of becoming a commoner or forgoing the marriage, which she eventually chose.

Queen Elizabeth ll greets the public during a Silver Jubilee walkabout wearing a pale blue double-breasted long coat, pearls and hat, carrying a bunch of roses.
Queen Elizabeth ll greets the public during a Silver Jubilee walkabout in London. Photo: Getty Images

In 1977, Queen Elizabeth II not only celebrated her Silver Jubilee after 25 years on the throne, but also became a grandmother when Princess Anne gave birth to Peter Phillips in November.

The next couple of years were tumultuous for Her Majesty, as Princess Margaret divorced her husband Lord Snowden in 1978, and in 1979 her second cousin and close friend, Earl Mountbatten, was assassinated in Ireland.

Prince Charles & Princess Diana stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England, July 29, 1981.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral on July, 29, 1981. Photo: Getty

In 1981, her heir and eldest child Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in a ceremony that was watched by millions around the world.

But that year also saw two attempts on Queen Elizabeth's life.

The first was during the Trooping of the Colour when she was shot at six times at close range.

Luckily they were blanks, but the 17-year-old gunman was jailed for five years.

The second time was during her tour of New Zealand in October when another 17-year-old shot at her using a rifle but missed.

He was jailed for three years.

A final breach of The Queen's security happened the following year when she awoke to discover a man in her bedroom.

Smoke billows above Windsor Castle as dusk falls after fire swept through the royal home and fire engines gather in the square. A statue of a man mounted on a horse is in the foreground..
The scene at Windsor Castle as dusk falls after the fire swept through the royal home. Photo: Getty Images

While her Ruby Jubilee year should have been one of joy, The Queen named it her annus horribilis.

Not only did Prince Andrew and his wife Sarah separate, and Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips divorced in the first half of 1992, but she was pelted with eggs during a state visit to Germany and a fire ripped through one of her main residences, Windsor Castle, in November.

The year finished off with Prince Charles and Princess Diana announcing their separation.

"1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure," she said in her Ruby Jubilee speech.

"In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an 'annus horribilis'."

Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Earl Spencer, Prince William and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, follow the coffin of Diana The Princess of Wales towards Westminster Abbey for her funeral service on 06 September 1997. The coffin is on a horse-drawn vehicle guarded by red-coated guards in beefeater fur hats.
Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Earl Spencer, Prince William and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, follow the coffin of Diana, The Princess of Wales, towards Westminster Abbey for her funeral service. Photo: Getty

In 1997, Princess Diana died in a car accident in Paris and the public turned on the Royal family, seen as cold and uncaring over the loss of the people's princess.

In 2002, The Queen celebrated 50 years on the throne, however her Golden Jubilee was also marred with sadness.

Her sister Princess Margaret passed away in February and her mother, The Queen Mother, died in March.

In 2005, Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles in a civil ceremony.

Wearing her white wedding gown with long lace sleeves and veil, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and red-suited Prince William, Duke of Cambridge kiss on the balcony at Buckingham Palace with Bridesmaids Margarita Armstrong-Jones (Right) And Grace Van Cutsem (Left), following their wedding at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 in London, England.
The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, on the balcony at Buckingham Palace following their wedding. Photo: Getty

In 2010, Queen Elizabeth II became a great-grandmother when Savannah Phillips was born.

The following year Prince William married Kate Middleton in a royal wedding again watched by millions around the world.

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 was a joyous year.

London hosted the Olympics, Kate and William announced they were expecting their first child and street parties were held up and down the UK to celebrate her 60 years on the throne.

In 2017, The Queen not only celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee but also 70 years of marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, he in a blue suit and she in a bright green dress, cape and hat, arrive at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is their final official engagement before they quit royal life.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their final official engagement before they quit royal life in 2020. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

2020 saw another bombshell for Her Majesty when Prince Harry and his new wife Meghan Markle announced they were quitting royal life and moving to North America.

Just after the shock announcement, the COVID pandemic hit.

In April 2021, The Queen's beloved husband Prince Philip passed away, aged 99.

While Prince Andrew said his mother was stoic in the face of her loss, he added: "She described it as having left a huge void in her life but we, the family, the ones that are close, are rallying round to make sure that we're there to support her."

In pale green dress and seated in a wing armchair near lamps and flowers, a smiling Queen Elizabeth II is photographed at Sandringham House to mark the start of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Year, on February 2, 2022 in Sandringham, Norfolk.
An official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II to mark the start of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Year. Photo: Getty

As Her Majesty celebrated another jubilee earlier this year, she was noticeably more frail and had withdrawn considerably from official engagements.

However, she was never far from the public eye and the Royal Family released an official Platinum Jubilee portrait of the monarch.

The Queen also addressed the public in a personal message.

"Thank you to everyone who has been involved in convening communities, families, neighbours and friends to mark my Platinum Jubilee, in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth.

"I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions," she said.

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