Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she visits Cyfarthfa High School and Castle on April 26, 2012
Chris Jackson WPA – Pool | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II was admired at home and around the world during her reign — the longest in British and world history.
Having ascended to the throne in 1952 at age 25, Elizabeth became the U.K.’s longest reigning monarch in September 2015 when she surpassed Queen Victoria’s record of nearly 64 years. Elizabeth became the world’s longest-reigning monarch and head of state when Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej died in October 2016 after he spent 70 years on the throne.
During her life, the queen was a patron to hundreds of charities and organizations and was one of the most traveled world leaders.
CNBC looks back at some of the British monarch’s most memorable moments.
A portrait of Princess Elizabeth (L) | Princess Elizabeth with two corgi dogs at her home (R)
Getty Images: Picture Post / Lisa Sheridan | Hulton Royals Collection
Elizabeth was born April 21, 1926, the first child of the then-Duke and Duchess of York. In 1930, Elizabeth’s parents gave birth to her sister, Princess Margaret Rose.
“Lilibet” ascended to the throne sooner than anyone had expected. Her uncle, childless King Edward VIII abdicated in December 1936 over his romance with divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth’s father became King George VI, putting her next in the succession.
Princess on duty
Then-Princess Elizabeth learns how to change a car tire as an auxiliary officer of the English Army, 1945.
Roger Viollet | Getty Images
During World War II, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service at age 18 in 1945, with the rank of subaltern. By the time the war ended, she had become a junior commander.
Falling in love
The royal family at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
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Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, her third cousin and a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gluecksburg, met in 1934 at the wedding of Philip’s cousin, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. However, it wasn’t until July 1947 until the pair were officially engaged. They married on Nov. 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey.
The royal family at Buckingham Palace, London, 1972. Left to right: Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Edward and Prince Charles.
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A year later, Nov. 14, 1948, Elizabeth gave birth to the first of her four children, Prince Charles. Before ascending to the throne, Elizabeth had two children, Charles and Princess Anne (1950), who were then followed by Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964.
Queen Elizabeth II begins her reign
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave from the balcony at Buckingham Palace during the queen’s coronation celebrations June 2, 1953.
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King George VI died on Feb. 6, 1952, making the 25-year-old Elizabeth queen. More than a year later, on June 2, 1953, she was formally crowned at Westminster Abbey in the first British coronation to be televised.
Queen Elizabeth with Audrey Callaghan (right), wife of then-Prime Minister James Callaghan, during a visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, Nov. 10, 1977.
Evening Standard | Hulton Royals Collection | Getty Images
Members of the royal family represent numerous organizations and charities worldwide. More than 3,000 groups list a royal as a patron or president. In recent years, the queen was the patron of over 600 organizations, with the causes including the environment, education and health.
Attending royal events
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrive for Day Two at the Royal Ascot Racecourse on June 17, 2015
Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Being a member of the royal family means attending numerous gatherings from sport and charity to gardening. However, as an avid racegoer and owner of several horses, Elizabeth especially looked forward to attending the Royal Ascot race in Berkshire, a county west of London, every June.
Queen Elizabeth II records her Christmas message to the Commonwealth, in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace
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Ceremony and pageantry are a core part of the British royal family. Among the regular duties Elizabeth carried out were making the annual Christmas speech and attending “Trooping the Colour.”
An ever-expanding family
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are joined by members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Trooping the Colour ceremony.
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Elizabeth wasn’t alone in undertaking national duties.
President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and first lady Michelle Obama arrive at Winfield House.
Yui Mok – WPA Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Elizabeth’s travels circled the world several times. She met countless leading figures inside and out of Europe. She met with every U.S. president from Harry S. Truman to Joe Biden (in June 2021) except Lyndon Johnson.
Beloved by many
Mark Cuthbert | UK Press | Getty Images
Elizabeth’s relationship with the British public was almost always warm, although she was criticized for remaining at Balmoral Castle in Scotland for several days after the 1997 death of Diana rather than to immediately return to London. The family later said they stayed at Balmoral to protect and prepare the grieving Princes William and Harry, then 15 and 12, for their mother’s funeral.
Celebrating 50 years as queen
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip ride in the Golden State Carriage at the head of a parade celebrating the queen’s Golden Jubilee, June 4, 2002
Sion Touhig | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
In June 2002, the U.K. celebrated 50 years of Elizabeth’s reign. Celebrations were held across the country and the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh traveled to every region of the U.K. and the Commonwealth to mark the occasion.
Staying strong in times of trouble
The queen with a firefighter inspecting damage at Windsor Castle.
Getty Images: Tim Graham | Corbis Historical/Tim Graham Photo Library
On Nov. 20, 1992, the queen’s 45th wedding anniversary, a fire at Windsor Castle caused extensive damage that took years to repair. But that was just one of a string of events that prompted the queen declare 1992 to be “annus horribilis.” Prince Andrew’s separation with the former Sarah Ferguson was announced in March. The next month, Princess Anne divorced Capt. Mark Phillips. In June, Princess Diana’s tell-all book was published. Its revelations included husband Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
The queen’s speech
A message from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is displayed on a screen in Piccadilly Circus, during the early days of the Covid pandemic, London, Britain, April 8, 2020.
Hannah McKay | Reuters
During the coronavirus outbreak, the queen delivered a rare video speech on April 5, 2020, to promise her subjects that they will prevail over the coronavirus. “We will succeed — and that success will belong to every one of us. We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return,” she said from Windsor Castle.
A love for animals
Queen Elizabeth takes a photograph while with her corgis at Windsor Park in 1960 in Windsor, England.
Anwar Hussein | Hulton Archive | Getty Images
Aside from horses, another animal the queen loved was the Pembroke Welsh corgi. As her husband was undergoing treatment for his final illness in early 2021, the queen acquired two puppies, a corgi she named Muick and a dorgi, a cross with a dachshund, she called Fergus. They were named, respectively, after Loch Muick on the Balmoral estate and her late uncle Fergus Bowes-Lyon, who was killed during World War I. Sadly, Fergus the pup died of a heart problem in May at age 5 months.
A new generation
The official wedding family photo of the royal family from the wedding of Prince Harry and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
Alexi Lubomirski | The Royal Family
Being a royal, keeping up with appearances and official photographs was just one of the many duties the queen undertook.
A sad farewell
Queen Elizabeth II (upper left) watches as pallbearers carry the coffin of Prince Philip during his funeral at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Britain, April 17, 2021.
Dominic Lipinski | Reuters
The queen sat alone as her husband’s casket was held by a military honor guard at his funeral at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel. Philip died April 9, 2021, at age 99. The funeral was four days before Elizabeth’s 95th birthday.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Anne, Princess Royal, Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, along with Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince Louis appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as part of Trooping the Colour parade during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London, Britain, June 2, 2022.
Hannah Mckay | Reuters
The 96-year-old monarch made an appearance in June on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the first day of her Platinum Jubilee, marking the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne. She waved to tens of thousands of people gathered below and watched an aviation display in her honor, but was not able to attend many of the events that took place over the four days of celebration due to her declining health.
15 prime ministers
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, left, welcomes Liz Truss during an audience at Balmoral, Scotland, where she invited the newly elected leader of the Conservative party to become Prime Minister and form a new government, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.
Jane Barlow | AP
Elizabeth appointed Liz Truss as prime minister on Sept. 6 during a meeting at her Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The meeting was part of a routine in which the queen fulfilled her constitutional role of appointing a new prime minister — a sequence of events she oversaw 15 times. However, she broke with tradition and appointed Truss from Scotland rather than traveling to Buckingham Palace, as is typical.