17 Vintage Photos of Queen Elizabeth II Before She Became Queen
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch, having ascended the throne in 1952 at age 25. Here are some snapshots of what her life was like before her coronation.
1926: Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary is born
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York was born on April 21, 1926. She’s pictured here with her mother, Elizabeth, the Duchess of York, who was the wife of Prince Albert “Bertie” of York. Since Bertie was the second-born son of the reigning monarch, King George V, no one, and least of all the princess, herself, had any clue Elizabeth would one day be queen. Here, she’s just a sweet firstborn daughter of the “spare” heir. Can’t get enough of the adorable royal babies? Here are 21 more photos that will make you say, “aww!”
1927: Lilibet at 14 months
When Princess Elizabeth was learning to speak, she had trouble pronouncing her name, referring to herself as “Lilibet,” and the name stuck. Lilibet was a happy and friendly child and the darling of her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary. Outgoing and plucky, Lilibet was one of the few people on the planet who wasn’t intimidated by the man she called “Grandpa England,” whom she led by his beard as if he were a horse, according to TIME.
1932: Still a cozy, normal childhood
Arriving at the Royal Tournament in 1932, Princess Elizabeth was dressed like the proper princess that she was, but she generally lived a quiet life outside the spotlight. Until the birth of her sister, Princess Margaret Ann, she played with the children of businessmen and doctors, as opposed to the children of royals. Princess Margaret was a playful influence on her sister, who was, as is often the case with older siblings, more conscientious and responsible.
1936: Everything was about to change
Pictured with two of her Corgis in 1936, Princess Elizabeth likely has little awareness of the constitutional crisis brewing as a result of King Edward VIII’s romance with the still-married, once-divorced American, Wallis Simpson. Her divorce, among other things, made her an inappropriate king’s “consort,” but Edward declared his intention to marry her and make her his queen. By the end of 1936, Edward would abdicate after learning the British people wouldn’t be able to support their King’s marriage to a divorcee, leaving Elizabeth’s father, Bertie, as King (King George VI) and Elizabeth as the presumptive heir. One thing that hasn’t changed, even today? Elizabeth’s love of Corgis.
1937: The future Queen and her sister at play
It was around this time that Princess Elizabeth realized she was now the presumptive heir to the throne. (She could not be heir “apparent” because theoretically, her father could still have fathered a son, who in the days of male primogeniture, would bump Elizabeth from the line of succession.) Princess Margaret famously expressed her “sympathy” for what lay ahead of her dear older sister. Today, Queen Elizabeth II helped do away with male progeniture, as well as these 11 other royal rules.
1939: Elizabeth as a lover of animals
Queen Elizabeth II is one of, if not the, most famous animal lover in the world. Here she’s seen feeding one of the elephants at the London Zoo. Later in life, Elizabeth received one as a gift from the President of Cameroon in 1972. Here are some other exotic animals the Queen has received as gifts.
1943: All the pretty horses
Queen Elizabeth started riding at age three and has owned many horses throughout her life. Here she is, at age 17, with one of her many horses during Harvest Time at Sandringham in Norfolk.
1944: The heir presumptive turns 18
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The 18th birthday of an heir (apparent or presumptive) signifies the heir could become monarch at any time without the need for a regent to act on his/her behalf. Here, Elizabeth answers a telephone greeting on her 18th birthday, April 21, 1944.
1945: A Princess does her military duty
It took a lot of cajoling, but eventually, Elizabeth got her father, King George VI to agree to allow her to join the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II, for which she donned coveralls and trained as a mechanic and truck driver and was known as “Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor.” According to History, the Queen is the only female royal family member to have entered the armed forces. She may also be the only royal female who can change a spark plug. Don’t miss these other hidden royal talents.
1946: The Princess does her duty for fashion
The current Princesses of the United Kingdon are not the first to have been on almost constant style-watch. Here, Princess Elizabeth is pictured modeling what can only be described as a truly fabulous, fashion-forward hat. Find out why the Queen always wears bright colors.