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Saturday, May 25, 2013
|Source: Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group|
Sixty years and still strong
Last week, the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her diamond jubilee, with jubilant crowds across the country paying homage to her 60 years on the throne. And not without good reason - she’s certainly led one of the most illustrious royal careers in modern history. As London Mayor Boris Johnson summed up earlier in the year, "After 60 years on the throne she has proved the value of the monarchy in uniting the nation, and she has put the republicans to a spectacular rout. ... she has seen the people of this country grow incomparably richer, healthier and (arguably) happier than they were in 1952."
It isn’t just the United Kingdom that the Queen has had an impact on, either. She’s the head of state for 15 other commonwealth realms, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada. And she still has plenty of clout in the international diplomacy arena, with plenty of countries happy to receive a royal visit in order to reassert diplomatic relations with the UK.
But what have been the highlights of Queen Elizabeth II’s career over the last 60 years? Certainly there are many to choose from, given that only one British royal in history has ever sat on the throne for longer (Queen Victoria). We’ve put together a timeline of her major moments from before she came to power, and then throughout her major reign.
1926 – Elizabeth is born by caesarean section at 2.40am (GMT) on April 21 at her maternal grandfather’s house at 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair. She was the first child of Price Albert, Duke of York (later to become King George VI), and his wife, Elizabeth.
1936 – Elizabeth’s father, the Duke of York, becomes King George VI, following his brother’s abdication. Elizabeth becomes Heiress presumptive.
1943 – Elizabeth makes her first solo public appearance at the age of 16, visiting the Grenadier Guards, an infantry regiment of the British Army of which she had been promoted to Colonel-in-Chief.
1947 – Elizabeth makes her first overseas tour, accompanying her parents on a trip trough southern Africa. During the tour, in a radio broadcast, she says, "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."
1947 – It is officially announced on July 9 that Elizabeth is engaged to Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (who eventually becomes the Duke of Edinburgh).
1947 – Elizabeth and Philip are married on November 20 at Westminster Abbey, receiving over 2,500 wedding gifts from around the world.
1948 – Elizabeth gives birth to her first child, Prince Charles, on November 14.
1950 – Elizabeth gives birth to her second child, Princess Anne, on August 15.
1951 – Elizabeth’s father, George VI, experiences health problems, so she frequently stands for him at public events. In October, Elizabeth’s private secretary carries a draft accession declaration for use if the King dies while she is on tour.
1952 – While Elizabeth is on tour in Kenya with Philip, it is announced that King George VI has died on February 6. Philip breaks the news to Elizabeth. When asked to choose her regal name, the new Queen replies, “Elizabeth, of course”. She is proclaimed Queen throughout her realms and her and the Duke of Edinburgh move into Buckingham Palace.
1953 – Six weeks before the Elizabeth’s official coronation, her grandmother, the Dowager Queen Mary, dies on March 24, though it is agreed that the coronation goes ahead as planed. Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation takes place at Westminster Abbey on June 2.
1953-1954 – The Queen and her husband embark on a six-month, around-the-world tour, becoming the first reigning monarch of Australia and New Zealand to visit these countries. Crowds are immense, with over three quarters of the Australian population estimated to have seen the Queen.
1957 – The Queen is asked to pick a new Prime Minister, following the resignation Conservative Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden and the Conservative Party’s absence of a formal mechanism for choosing a new leader. On advice from Lord Salisbury, she picks Harold Macmillan.
1957 – The Queen makes a state visit to the United States, where she address the United Nations General Assembly. On the same tour, she opens the 23rd Canadian Parliament, becoming the first monarch of Canada to open a parliamentary session.
1960 – The Queen’s third child and second son, Prince Andrew, is born on February 19.
1961 – The Queen embarks on a tour of Cyprus, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Iran. She also visits Ghana later this year, dismissing fears for her safety.
1964 – The Queen’s fourth child and third son, Prince Edward, is born on March 10.
1965 – Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith declares unilateral independence from Britain. The Queen dismisses Smith in a formal declaration and the international community applies sanctions against the country, but Smith’s regime survives for over a decade.
1974 – British Prime Minister Edward Heath calls a general election in the middle of the Queen’s tour of the Austronesian Pacific Rim, so she returns home sooner than expected. The election yields no clear winner, and no coalition agreement can be settled, leading the Queen to invite the Leader of the Opposition, Labour’s Harold Wilson, to form a government.
1975 – At the height of the 1975 Australian Constitutional Crisis, Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam is dismissed by the Governor-General. The Australians appeal to the Queen to reverse the Governor-General’s decision, though she declines, saying that she would not interfere in his decisions. The crisis fuels Australian republicanism.
1977 – The Queen celebrates her Silver Jubilee, marking 25 years on the throne and re-affirming her popularity, despite the royal family in general receiving relatively bad press.
1981 – During the 1981 Trooping the Colour ceremony, six shots are fired at the Queen from close range as she rides down the Mall on her horse. Police later discover that the bullets were blanks, fired by 17-year-old Marcus Sarjeant, who is sentenced to five years in prison.
1986 – Intense media interest in the private lives of the royals has gotten out of hand. Journalist Donald Trelford writes, "The royal soap opera has now reached such a pitch of public interest that the boundary between fact and fiction has been lost sight of ... it is not just that some papers don't check their facts or accept denials: they don't care if the stories are true or not."
1991 – In the wake of the Gulf War, the Queen becomes the first British monarch to address a joint session of the United States Congress.
1992 – The Queen celebrates having sat on the throne for 40 years, despite enduring a tough year, involving a string of royal divorces, low public approval and Windsor Castle suffering severe fire damage. In an unusually personal speech, she calls the year her annus horribilis, meaning literally “horrible year”.
1997 – The Queen’s former daughter-in-law, Princess Diana, is killed in a car crash on August 31. Pressured by an increasingly hostile media, the Queen gives a live broadcast to the world about Diana, the day before her funeral.
2002 – The Queen celebrates her Golden Jubilee, marking 40 years on the throne. However, both her sister and mother die this year, making for a mixture of feelings.
2010 – The Queen addresses the United Nations for a second time, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon introducing her as “an anchor for our age”.
2011 – At the invitation of Irish President Mary McAleese, the Queen makes the first state visit by a British monarch to the Republic of Ireland.
2012 – The Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years on the throne.
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