The Queens childhood

Elizabeth was the first child of Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), and his wife, Elizabeth. She was born by Caesarean section at 2.40 am on 21 April 1926 at her maternal grandfather's London house: 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair. The Anglican Archbishop of York, Cosmo Lang, baptised her in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace on 29 May. She was named Elizabeth after her mother, Alexandra after George V's mother, who had died six months earlier, and Mary after her paternal grandmother. Her close family called her “Lilibet”. George V cherished his granddaughter, and during his serious illness in 1929 her regular visits were raising his spirits and aiding his recovery.

Elizabeth's only sibling was Princess Margaret, born in 1930. The two princesses were educated at home under the supervision of their mother and their governess, Marion Crawford, who was casually known as “Crawfie”. Lessons concentrated on history, language, literature and music. To the dismay of the royal family, in 1950 Crawford published a biography of Elizabeth and Margaret's childhood years entitled The Little Princesses. The book describes Elizabeth's love of horses and dogs, her orderliness, and her attitude of responsibility. Others echoed such observations: Winston Churchill described Elizabeth when she was two as “a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.”

Queen Elizabeth was an animal lover since childhood. The Queen takes a keen and highly knowledgeable interest in horses. She attends the Derby at Epsom, one of the classic flat races in Britain, and the Summer Race Meeting at Ascot, which has been a Royal occasion since 1911. The Queen's horses won races at Royal Ascot on a number of occasions. There was a notable double on 18 June 1954 when Landau won the Rous Memorial Stakes and a stallion called Aureole won the Hardwicke Stakes, and in 1957 The Queen had four winners during Ascot week. In 1984, 1986 and 1991 Her Majesty made brief private visits to the United States to see stallion stations and stud farms in Kentucky. Other interests include walking in the countryside and working her Labradors, which were bred at Sandringham. A lesser known interest is Scottish country dancing. Each year during her stay at Balmoral Castle, The Queen gives dances known as Gillies' Balls, for neighbours, estate and Castle staff and members of the local community.

As a perk of royalty in the United Kingdom, she is head of state in all the Commonwealth Realms, meaning she is also Queen of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

The duties of Queen are largely ceremonial, but Elizabeth has always conducted herself with dignity, and she was Time Magazine's Woman of the Year in 1952, for providing “a quiet, well-behaved fairy tale in which the world could believe.” She insisted that her children attend ordinary schools, although the royal definition of “ordinary” means they were sent to swanky private schools, and years later she was clearly pained by the assorted scandals and divorces among her children. In 1992, she quietly acquiesced as Parliament passed laws that, for the first time, taxed the royal family's enormous wealth.

Where The Queen Lives

Most of the time The Queen lives at Buckingham Palace in London. She also sometimes resides at Windsor Castle in Berkshire, Sandringham House in Norfolk, Balmoral Castle in Scotland or Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. The official residence of Queen Elizabeth II and her consort, Prince Philip, is Buckingham Palace in London, UK. In addition to Buckingham, the British Monarch also maintains official residence at Windsor Castle in Windsor and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh; Hillsborough Castle in County Down, Northern Ireland, is also an official residence though it is primarily used by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Elizabeth also owns Sandringham House in Norfolk and Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Unlike the official residences, these are personal possessions and ownership is not a consequence of being Queen. Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

England is a part of the United Kingdom but the title “Queen of England” has not existed for over 300 years. Apart from Buckingham Palace in London, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip have official residences at Windsor Castle in Windsor, Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh and Hillsborough Castle in County Down, Northern Ireland.

Live Time Events

1952 - Elizabeth accedes to the throne on the death of her father George VI. 1953 - Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climb Everest just before Coronation Day. 1955 - Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister and is succeeded by Anthony Eden. 1957 - Harold Macmillan succeeds Eden as Prime Minister. 1959 - Oil is discovered in the North Sea. 1963 - Alec Douglas-Hume replaces Harold Macmillan as Prime Minister. The Beatles release their first LP. 1964 - Labour government of Harold Wilson takes office. 1969 - Charles invested as Prince of Wales. 1970 - Edward Heath becomes Conservative Prime Minister. 1971 - Decimal currency is introduced. 1973 - Britain joins the European Community. 1974 - Harold Wilson returns as Prime Minister. 1979 - Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain's first woman Prime Minister. 1981 - Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer. 1982 - Unemployment tops three million. Britain goes to war with Argentina over control of the Falkland Islands. 1989-90 - Poll tax introduced amid widespread protest. 1990 - Margaret Thatcher resigns as Prime Minister and is succeeded by John Major. 1996 - Both the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the Duke and Duchess of York divorce. 1997 - Labour Party under Tony Blair ends 18 years of Conservative government. Hong Kong reverts to China after 155 years of British rule. 1998 - Structure of Millennium Dome completed. 1999 - National Maritime Museum reopens after being refurbished. 2000 - Queen Mother celebrates her 100th birthday. 2001 - Prince William starts at St Andrews University. 2002 - Queen Elizabeth marks 50 years of rule. Princess Margaret dies.

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