Facts about the Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II

In the years 1977, 2002, and 2012, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees respectively. So far, she holds the title of the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

Crowned on June 2, 1953, Elizabeth II has witnessed it all, from World War II, decolonization in Africa, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and  to the Cold War. However, very few people know the details about her early life. What events molded or shaped her into becoming one of the greatest women to ever live?

The following questions and answers provide you all the facts about the early life of Queen Elizabeth II:

Queen Elizabeth II

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) by Philip de László, 1933

When was Queen Elizabeth II born?

Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926. The exact time of her birth was 02:40 GMT. However, the future monarch of England’s birth was not the smoothest of births. Doctors had to perform a Cesarean section in order to deliver her.

Where was Queen Elizabeth II born?

Queen Elizabeth II was born at her maternal grandfather’s (the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne) residence: 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London.

Who were Elizabeth II’s parents?

She was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York. Her father, the Duke of York, later became King George VI (1895-1952). This was after his older brother, King Edward VIII (1894-1972), abdicated in 1936. Elizabeth II’s mother was the beautiful Duchess of York (also known as Elizabeth Bowes Lyon).

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II’s parents – the Duke and Duchess of York (Later King George VI and Queen Consort, Elizabeth)

Where was she baptized?

Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, the future Queen of England was baptized at a private chapel in Buckingham Palace, England. The event, which was conducted by the Anglican Archbishop of York, Cosmo Gordon, occurred on May 29 1926.

Why was Elizabeth II get named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor at birth?

Elizabeth was named after her mother, Elizabeth Bowes Lyon. The Alexandra in her name came from her paternal great grandmother, Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925). And the Mary was from her paternal grandmother, Mary of Teck (1867-1953).

Did she have any nicknames while growing up?

Yes. Royal records show that the future monarch was often fondly called ‘Lilibet’ by her family and friends. There is an interesting story about the childhood nickname of Elizabeth. Struggling to pronounce Elizabeth, her younger sister Princess Margaret, who was by then a toddler, could only utter the word “Lilibet”. And that is how come the nickname got stuck.

How many siblings did Elizabeth II have?

Queen Elizabeth II

Princess Margaret (left) and Princess Elizabeth in 1933. Image source

She had only one sibling- Princess Margaret, the Countess of Snowdon. Her younger sister was born on August 21, 1930. On February 9, 2002, Princess Margaret passed away as a result of a decade long battle with pneumonia. In her later years, the princess suffered three strokes. Coincidentally, she died in the very year Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Golden Jubilee.

Who was Elizabeth’s governess?

Right from an early age, and as it was common with most British royals, Elizabeth was home schooled by her mother, and her governess Marion Crawford. Born on June 5, 1909 in East Ayrshire, Scotland, Crawford (commonly called Crawfie by the royal kids) served the Duke and Duchess of York up until 1947. Not only did she serve as tutor for Elizabeth, but she also tutored Princess Margaret.

In 1950, she published a book titled: The Little Princesses. The book was an account of her time spent tutoring the two princesses- Elizabeth and Margaret. It is believed that her book did not go down well with the royals. Shortly after its publication, a rift broke out between Crawford and the British royal family. This was due to very interesting revelations that Crawford put in the book.

In the years leading up to her death, Crawford lived a very isolated and depressed life. She even contemplated and attempted suicide. On February 11, 1988, Crawford died at home peacefully.

At what age did Elizabeth become heir presumptive to the British Throne?

In order to answer this question, we must go back to the reign of George V (1865-1936), Elizabeth’s paternal grandfather. As at that time, she was the third person in line to the crown, behind  her uncle, Prince Edward, and her father Prince George.

No one ever gave Elizabeth a chance of one day sitting on the British throne. Her uncle, Edward, was still very young and in top-notch health. Upon the death of her grandfather George V in 1936, Elizabeth moved into the second position. However, she would stay in that position for only a brief period of time. This was because her uncle, then King Edward VIII, voluntarily abdicated the throne in order to marry a three-time divorcee, Wallis Simpson. With no kids of his own, the crown passed on to his younger brother, the Duke of York – Elizabeth’s father.

Therefore, in a space of just under a year, the young Princess Elizabeth had moved from someone no one thought of becoming queen to becoming heir presumptive to the British throne in 1936. She was 10 years old by then.

How and where did Elizabeth serve during World War II?

Facts about Queen Elizabeth II

Princess Elizabeth changing a tire in 1945. Image Source

When WWII broke out in September 1939, Princess Elizabeth was 13 years old. Government officials and court officials insisted that the royal family, including King George VI, be sent to a safe place in Canada. This request was quickly turned down because George VI never envisaged leaving his people. And because the Queen mother, Elizabeth, did not plan on leaving the King’s side, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret had to stay with their parents.

All throughout the war, Princess Elizabeth broadcast message of encouragement on the BBC’s Children’s Hour. She also went on several military visits. In 1944, she was made colonel. Prior to turning 18, the government appointed her as a member of the Counselors of State. That same year, she served as the second subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. Her training as a mechanic came very handy in supporting her unit during WWII.

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