Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II


Elisabeth II (pronounced in French [elizabɛt] a; in English: Elizabeth II, pronounced [əˈlɪzəbəθ]) b, born April 21, 1926 in London, is the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as well than fifteen other sovereign states, called Commonwealth Kingdoms, and their territories and dependencies. She is also the head of the Commonwealth, an organization of fifty-three states.

When her father George VI acceded to the throne in 1936 following the abdication of her brother Edward VIII, she became, at the age of 10, the heir apparent to the British Crown. During World War II, she enlisted in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. On November 20, 1947, she married Philip Mountbatten, Prince of Greece and Denmark, with whom she had four children: Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Princess Royal, Andrew, Duke of York and Edward, Earl of Wessex.

She acceded to the British throne on February 6, 1952 at the age of 25. His coronation, on June 2, 1953, was the first to be broadcast on television. She becomes the sovereign of seven independent states of the Commonwealth: South Africa, Australia, Canada, Ceylon, New Zealand, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Between 1956 and 1992, the number of its kingdoms changed, as territories gained independence and certain kingdoms became republics. In addition to the aforementioned Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II is today Queen of Jamaica, Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, from Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis and, a priori until November 2021, from the Barbados.

During a long reign in which she saw fifteen British Prime Ministers pass, she made numerous historic visits and oversaw several constitutional changes in her kingdoms such as the devolution of power to the United Kingdom and the patriation of the Constitution of Canada. She also encounters difficult times, such as the assassination of Prince Philip’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten, the separations and divorce of three of her children in 1992 (a year she describes as annus horribilis), the death of her daughter-in-law, Diana Spencer, in 1997, and the deaths of her mother and sister in 2002. The Queen has faced harsh criticism from the press against the Royal Family, but support for the monarchy and its personal popularity remain high among the British population.

Since September 9, 2015, she has been the longest reigning British sovereign (to date 69 years, 2 months and 5 days), exceeding the length of reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria (63 years , 7 months and 2 days). On October 13, 2016, following the death of King Rama IX of Thailand, she became the longest and oldest reigning ruler currently in office.

First years

Birth and family

Élisabeth Alexandra Mary is the first child of Prince Albert, Duke of York (later George VI) and his wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. His father is the second son of King George V and Queen Mary and his mother is the youngest daughter of Scottish aristocrat Claude Bowes-Lyon, Lord Strathmore. Elisabeth was born by caesarean section at 2:40 a.m. on April 21, 1926 in the London residence of her maternal grandparents, located at 17 Bruton Street, in Mayfair1. She was baptized by the Archbishop of York, Cosmo Lang, in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace on May 29, 2 c. She is named Elizabeth in honor of her mother, Alexandra in honor of her great-grandmother, the queen mother of King George V, who died six months previously, and Mary in honor of her paternal grandmother, Queen Mary4. Her relatives nicknamed her “Lilibet” 5. George V adored his granddaughter, and when he fell seriously ill in 1929, the popular press and subsequent biographers attributed his recovery to frequent visits from little Elizabeth who was three years old. Great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Empress of India who died in 1901, she knew the three youngest children of her famous grandmother and can be considered a child of the Victorian era.


Queen Elizabeth has a sister, Margaret, who is four years younger. The two princesses are educated at home under the supervision of their mother and their governess, Marion Crawford, nicknamed “Crawfie” 7. Teaching focuses on history, speech, literature and music8. Much to the dismay of the royal family9, Crawford published in 1950 a book on Elizabeth and Margaret’s childhood, entitled The Little Princesses, in which she described Elizabeth’s love for horses and dogs. , discipline and sense of responsibility10. Others corroborate these observations; Winston Churchill writes about Elisabeth when she was two years old: “She has an authoritarian air and a breathtaking reflexivity for a child” 11. Her cousin Margaret Rhodes describes her as a “jovial but extremely sensible and well-behaved little girl” 12. In 1933, aged seven, the princess was portrayed by the painter of the royal courts and the aristocratic world Philip de Laszlo.

Heiress presumptive

Edward VIII abdication crisis

As the granddaughter of a monarch in the male line, the predicate and full title of the granddaughter is Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of Yorkd. She was then third in the order of succession to the British throne after her uncle, Edward of Wales and her father, the Duke of York. Although her birth attracts public attention, it is not expected that she will ever become Queen, as the Prince of Wales is only 31 years old and many believe he will marry and have children13. In 1936, when her grandfather King George V died, her uncle ascended to the throne as Edward VIII and she moved to second place in the order of succession. In December 1936, Edward VIII abdicated (his intention to marry Wallis Simpson, twice divorced, caused a constitutional crisis) 14. Elizabeth’s father then becomes king under the name of George VI and she becomes, at the age of 10, the heir apparent with the title of Her Royal Highness Princess Elisabeth15. If her parents had subsequently had a son, she would have lost her position as heir apparent and her brother would have become the crown prince to the British throne. Elisabeth received private instruction in constitutional history from Henry Marten, vice-president of the college of Eton17 and she learned French from governesses whose mother tongue was 18. A Girl Guiding Company, the First Company at Buckingham Palace, is specially trained so that she can meet girls her own age.

In 1939, Elisabeth’s parents traveled to Canada and the United States. As in 1927, when they went to Australia and New Zealand, Elisabeth remained in the United Kingdom, because her father considered that she was too young for such trips. Elisabeth “seemed on the verge of tears” when her parents left. They regularly exchange letters21 and, on May 18, make the royal family’s first transatlantic phone call.

On May 8, 1945, the day of Nazi Germany’s surrender, Princesses Elisabeth and Margaret mingled anonymously with the jubilant crowd in the streets of London. Elisabeth then said in one of her rare interviews: “We asked our parents if we could go out and see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognized… I remember the lines of strangers holding hands and walking down Whitehall, all together in a tide of happiness and relief. ”

During the war, the government repeatedly sought to appease Welsh nationalism by bringing Elizabeth closer to Wales33. It is thus suggested that the princess become constable of the castle of Caernarfon, a function then exercised by David Lloyd George. Home Secretary Herbert Morrison is considering appointing her as head of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Welsh youth organization33. Welsh politicians propose that Elisabeth become Princess of Wales on the occasion of her 18th birthday34. However, these projects were abandoned for various reasons, including the fear that Elizabeth would be associated with conscientious objectors within the Urdd33. In 1946, she joined the Gorsedd of the bards of the Isle of Brittany at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol35.

In 1947, Princess Elisabeth made her first trip abroad, accompanying her parents to southern Africa. During this trip, on her 21st birthday, she gave a radio address to the Commonwealth, in which she made the following promise:

“I declare before you all that I will dedicate my whole life, whether long or short, to your service and to the service of the great Imperial family of which we are all a part. ”

On May 8, 1945, the day of Nazi Germany’s surrender, Princesses Elisabeth and Margaret mingled anonymously with the jubilant crowd in the streets of London. Elisabeth then said in one of her rare interviews: “We asked our parents if we could go out and see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognized… I remember the lines of strangers holding hands and walking down Whitehall, all together in a tide of happiness and relief. ”

During the war, the government repeatedly sought to appease Welsh nationalism by bringing Elizabeth closer to Wales33. It is thus suggested that the princess become constable of the castle of Caernarfon, a function then exercised by David Lloyd George. Home Secretary Herbert Morrison is considering appointing her as head of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Welsh youth organization33. Welsh politicians propose that Elisabeth become Princess of Wales on the occasion of her 18th birthday34. However, these projects were abandoned for various reasons, including the fear that Elizabeth would be associated with conscientious objectors within the Urdd33. In 1946, she joined the Gorsedd of the bards of the Isle of Brittany at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol35.

In 1947, Princess Elisabeth made her first trip abroad, accompanying her parents to southern Africa. During this trip, on her 21st birthday, she gave a radio address to the Commonwealth, in which she made the following promise:

“I declare before you all that I will dedicate my whole life, whether long or short, to your service and to the service of the great Imperial family of which we are all a part. ”


Elisabeth met her future husband, Prince Philippe of Greece and Denmark (five years his senior), in 1934, and saw him again in 193737. They were first cousins ​​of the King of Denmark, Christian IX, and rear cousins. from siblings by Queen Victoria. They met again at Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in July 1939. When she was only 13, Elizabeth declared that she had fallen in love with Philippe, and they began to exchange letters38. Their engagement was officially announced on July 9, 194739.

This relationship is not without controversies, Philippe being only a member of a younger branch of the Royal House of Greece, and the Greek monarchy having known many vicissitudes since the beginning of the century. Moreover, this prince of foreign origin (even if he was naturalized following his service in the Royal Navy during the Second World War) was not particularly rich. Some of her sisters also married German princes close to the Nazi party40. Marion Crawford writes: “Some of the king’s advisers felt he was not good enough for her. He was a prince without a house or a kingdom. Certain documents clearly and strongly supported the foreign origins of Philip ”41. Later biographies suggest that Elizabeth’s mother initially opposed the union, even calling Philip de Hun (English equivalent of “boche”) 42. At the end of her life, however, she told her biographer Tim Heald that Philip was an “English gentleman” 43.

Before marriage, Philip renounces his Greek and Danish titles, abandons the Greek Orthodox Church for Anglicanism, and adopts the title of Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten by taking his mother’s British name44. Just before the wedding, he was made Duke of Edinburgh and received the predicate of Royal Highness45.

Elisabeth and Philip were married on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey. They receive around 2,500 presents from all over the world46. With the United Kingdom not yet fully recovered from the war, Elisabeth enforced ration coupons to be used to purchase the fabric for her dress, designed by Norman Hartnell. Philip’s German relatives (including his three surviving sisters48), as well as the Duke of Windsor (former King Edward VIII), were not invited to the ceremony49.

Elisabeth gave birth to her first child, Charles, on November 14, 1948. A month earlier, the king issued letters patent authorizing his daughter’s children to wear the titles of prince or princess, which was theoretically forbidden to them because their father is no longer a royal prince50. A second child, Princess Anne, was born on August 15, 1950.

Following their marriage, the couple rented Windlesham Moor, near Windsor Castle, until July 4, 194946, when they moved to Clarence House in London. On several occasions between 1949 and 1951, the Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in the British protectorate of Malta as a result of his role as an officer in the Royal Navy. He and Elisabeth then resided in the Maltese village of Gwardamanġa, where they rented the residence of Philip’s uncle, Louis Mountbatten. During this period, their children remain in the UK.

Queen of the United Kingdom and of the other Commonwealth realms

Accession to the throne and coronation

In 1951, George VI’s health declined and Elizabeth frequently replaced him for public ceremonies. During her visit to North America where she went to Canada and met President Truman in Washington in October 1951, her private secretary, Martin Charteris, carried with him the draft of a declaration of accession to the throne if the king came. to die on his journey53. At the beginning of 1952, Elisabeth and Philip embarked on a tour of Australia and New Zealand with a stopover in Kenya. On February 6, 1952, when they had just returned to their Kenyan residence at Sagana Lodge after a visit to Aberdare National Park, they learned of the king’s death. Martin Charteris asks her to choose a reign name and she decides to keep Elisabeth, “obviously” 55. She was then proclaimed queen in all her kingdoms under the name of Elizabeth II (an Elizabeth who had already reigned in the sixteenth century) and the members of the court hastily returned to the United Kingdom56. As the new monarch, she moved to Buckingham Palace57.

With Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, it seemed likely that the Royal House would take her husband’s name and become the House of Mountbatten as was the custom for a woman to take her husband’s name. Elizabeth’s grandmother, Mary of Teck, and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, preferred to retain the name of House of Windsor and the word Windsor was retained. The duke complained that he “was the only man in the country not to have the right to give his own children his name” 58. In 1960, after the death of Mary of Teck in 1953 and Churchill’s resignation in 1955, the name Mountbatten-Windsor was adopted for Philip and his male descendants who do not carry royal titles.

In the midst of preparations for the coronation, Princess Margaret informed her sister that she wanted to marry aviator Peter Townsend, 16 years her senior and having two children from a previous marriage. The queen asked him to wait a year; according to Martin Charteris, “the queen was naturally compassionate towards the princess, but I think she imagined, that she hoped, that in time, this affair would run out of steam on its own” 60. Political leaders were opposed to this union, and the Church of England did not allow remarriage if the divorcee was not widowed. If Margaret achieved a civil marriage, it was likely that she would have to relinquish her right to the throne. She eventually decided to give up her relationship with Townsend62. In 1960 she married Antony Armstrong-Jones who was made Earl of Snowdon the following year. They divorced in 1978 and she did not remarry63.

Despite the death of Queen Mary on March 24, preparations for the coronation continued and it took place as planned on June 2, 195364. With the exception of the Eucharist and the anointing, the entire ceremony at the Westminster Abbey was broadcast on television for the first time in history65, e. The coronation robe was designed by Norman Hartnell and was embroidered with the floral emblems of Commonwealth countries70: the English Tudor rose, Scottish thistle, Welsh leek, Irish clover, Canadian maple leaf, mimosa Australian gold, New Zealand silver fern, South African royal protea, lotus flower for India and Ceylon, and Pakistani wheat, cotton and jute.

Postwar period (1952-1972)

The first two decades of the Queen’s reign come immediately after World War II in the 1950s and 1960s. The period was marked by the Cold War politically and the Thirty Glorious Years economically.

Evolution of the Commonwealth

During her reign, Queen Elizabeth II witnessed the transformation of the British Empire into the Commonwealth72. By the time of his accession to the throne in 1952, his role as head of state of multiple independent states was already established73. Between 1953 and 1954, the queen and her husband embarked on a six-month world tour. She thus became the first monarch from Australia and New Zealand to visit these countries74. The Queen’s visits drew large crowds and it is estimated that three-quarters of the Australian population saw her on this occasion. During her reign, the Queen made more than 170 visits to the states of the Commonwealth76 and nearly a hundred to the states outside them77; she is thus the head of state who has traveled the most in history78.

In 1956, French Council President Guy Mollet and British Prime Minister Anthony Eden raised the possibility of France joining the Commonwealth. The proposal was never accepted and France signed the following year the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community, precursor of the European Union79. In November 1956, the United Kingdom and France invaded Egypt to regain control of the Suez Canal; the operation ended miserably and Eden resigned two months later. Louis Mountbatten asserted that the queen was opposed to the offensive, but Eden denied this assertion80.

In 1957, she traveled to the United States and addressed the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of the Commonwealth. During the same diplomatic visit, she inaugurated the 23rd Parliament of Canada, becoming the first Canadian monarch to open a parliamentary session81. Two years later, only in her capacity as Queen of Canada, she returned to the United States and visited Canada81,82 when she had learned, on her arrival in Saint John on the island of Newfoundland, that ‘she was expecting her third child83. In 1961, she visited Cyprus, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Iran84. During a visit to Ghana the same year, she dismisses fears for her safety even though her host, President Kwame Nkrumah, who had replaced her as Ghana’s head of state the year before, was the target. of assassins85.86. Before his visit to Quebec in 1964, the press reported that extremists of the separatist movement in the province were preparing a project aimed at his assassination87,88,89. There was no assassination attempt, but protests broke out while she was in Quebec; the “calm and courage of the queen in the face of violence” were noted90.

In addition to participating in traditional ceremonies, Elizabeth II introduced new practices such as the first royal walkabout which took place during a tour of Australia and New Zealand in 197091.

The 1960s and 1970s were marked by an acceleration of decolonization in Africa and the Caribbean. Over twenty countries gained independence through negotiated transitions to greater autonomy. In 1965, however, the Prime Minister of Rhodesia unilaterally declared the country’s independence from the United Kingdom to maintain white rule while expressing his “loyalty and devotion” to Elizabeth II. Although the Queen rejected it in a formal declaration and Rhodesia was hit by international sanctions, Smith’s regime survived until 197992.

Influence on the Conservative Party

In the absence of a formal mechanism within the Conservative Party to choose a new leader after Eden’s resignation, it fell to the Queen to decide who should form a new government. Eden recommended that she consult Lord Salisbury, the Lord President of the Council. The latter and Lord Kilmuir, the Lord Chancellor sought the advice of the Cabinet and Winston Churchill and the Queen appointed the proposed candidate, Harold Macmillan93.

The Suez Crisis and the choice of Eden’s successor gave rise to the Queen’s first major personal criticism in 1957. In a newspaper he owned and edited94 Lord Altrincham accused her of being “outdated” 95 and ” unable to line up more than a few sentences without help ”. Altrincham’s words were condemned and he was physically assaulted96. Six years later, in 1963, Macmillan resigned and advised the Queen to choose Alec Douglas-Home to succeed him, which she did97. She was again criticized for having appointed a prime minister on the advice of a small number of ministers or just one of them97. In 1965, the Conservatives adopted a new method of appointing their leader which no longer required the Queen to choose.

Royal family

During this period, she enlarged the royal family by having two additional children in 1960 (Andrew) and 1964 (Edward). The pregnancies preceding these births are the only occasions on which she does not participate in the opening ceremony of the British Parliament during her reign99.

She gave her eldest son Charles the title of Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on July 26, 1958100. Her enthronement was not, however, effective until July 1, 1969, when she handed him the crown of the Princes of Wales at Caernarfon Castle. , during a ceremony broadcast on British television100. The Prince delivers part of his speech in the Welsh language.

The time of wars and crises (1973-1992)

The two decades of the 1970s and 1980s saw the kingdom enter the EEC. This period is still marked by the Cold War politically, but unlike the previous two decades, the kingdom entered an economic recession after the two oil shocks of 1973 and 1979, followed by the economic liberalism of Margaret Thatcher and the Single European Act.

Entry into the EEC (1973)

On January 22, 1972, British Prime Minister Edward Heath signed in Brussels the Treaty of Accession to the European Economic Community (EEC), confirmed by the European Communities Act 1972 passed by the House of Commons at third reading on July 13, 1972.

The queen ratifies the membership by royal assent on October 17, 1972, which allows the United Kingdom to officially enter the community on January 1, 1973. The British people in turn confirm the membership by referendum on June 5, 1975 .

Government crisis (1974)

In February 1974, British Prime Minister Edward Heath advised the Queen to call a general election while she was visiting the Pacific Islands, which forced her to return to the United Kingdom101. Elections result in a minority parliament and Heath resigns when negotiations to form a coalition government with the Liberal Party fail. The Queen then took the initiative to ask the leader of the official opposition, Labor Harold Wilson, to form a government102.

Constitutional crisis in Australia (1975)
At the height of Australia’s constitutional crisis of 1975, Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was sacked by Governor General John Kerr after the opposition-controlled Senate rejected Whitlam’s budget proposals103. As Gough Whitlam has a majority in the House of Representatives, its Speaker Gordon Scholes is appealing to the Queen to overturn Kerr’s decision. Elizabeth II refuses, saying that she cannot intervene in decisions that the constitution of Australia reserves for the governor general104. The crisis is fueling Republican sentiments in Australia103.

Silver Jubilee (1977)

In 1977, Elizabeth II celebrated her Silver Jubilee marking her 25 years of reign. Celebrations and ceremonies took place throughout the Commonwealth and were usually held at the time of the Sovereign’s visit. These festivities reaffirmed the Queen’s popularity despite negative media coverage on the occasion of Princess Margaret’s divorce.

Attacks (1981-1982)

In 1981, during the Salute to the Colors ceremony and six weeks before the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, six shots were targeted at the Queen as she descended The Mall on her horse, Burmese. The police later discovered that they were blank cartridges. The shooter, Marcus Sarjeant, was sentenced to five years in prison before being released after three years106. The queen’s composure and control of her mount was widely noted107.

On July 9, 1982, the Queen was awoken in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace by an intruder named Michael Fagan. Newspapers at the time reported that they argued for nearly ten minutes before security intervened108, but Michael Fagan contradicted these claims109.

Dissolution of constitutional ties with Canada (1982)

According to Canadian politician Paul Martin, in the late 1970s the Queen was concerned that the Crown “meant little” to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. British politician Tony Benn says the Queen found Trudeau “quite disappointing” 110. Trudeau’s supposed republicanism seemed to be confirmed by his antics like sliding down the banisters at Buckingham Palace, his pirouettes behind the Queen’s back in 1977, and the removal of several Canadian royal symbols during his tenure.

In 1980, Canadian politicians traveled to London to discuss the patriation of the Constitution of Canada and found the Queen “better informed … than any other British politician or bureaucrat”. She is particularly interested in the subject after the rejection of Canadian law C-60, which would have affected her status as head of state. The 1982 repatriation removed the need to consult the British Parliament to amend the Canadian constitution, but the monarchy was maintained. Trudeau states in his memoirs that the Queen is in favor of his attempts at constitutional reform and that he was impressed by “the grace she had in public” and “the wisdom she showed in private” 111.

In 1987 in Canada, the Queen publicly expressed her support for the Meech Lake Accord, a constitutional reform project aimed at making Quebec adhere to the Constitution Act of 1982. The Queen’s support divided the Canadian political class and it is criticized by opponents of these constitutional amendments, including Pierre Trudeau112. Finally the project was rejected in 1990.

Falklands War (1982)

The Falklands War is a conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom in the Falklands Islands and in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It begins on April 2, 1982 with the landing of the Argentine army and ends on June 14, 1982 with a cease-fire. It ends with a British victory which allows the United Kingdom to assert its sovereignty over these territories.

The Queen is proud, 113 but also worried, throughout this time, about the fate of her second son Andrew, who fought in the war as a helicopter pilot.

Invasion of Grenada (1983)

Elizabeth II welcomed US President Ronald Reagan to Windsor Castle in 1982 and visited his California ranch in 1983. This is why she was greatly irritated when the US administration launched the invasion of Grenada in 1983, one of her Caribbean kingdoms, without her having been informed beforehand115.

Fijian Republic (1987)

In 1987, the democratically elected Fijian government was overthrown in a coup. As monarch of Fiji, Elizabeth II supports Governor General Penaia Ganilau’s efforts to exercise executive power and find a way out of the crisis.

Nevertheless, the organizer of the coup, Sitiveni Rabuka, dismisses Ganilau and abolishes the monarchy

Gulf War (1990-1991)

The Gulf War is a conflict between, from August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991, Iraq against a coalition of 35 states, led by the United States following the invasion and annexation of Kuwait by the ‘Iraq. Following the coalition victory, the Queen became the first British sovereign to address a joint session of the United States Congress.

Abolition of apartheid (1991)

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said that Elizabeth II played a “big role behind the scenes” to end apartheid in South Africa112,118 in 1991.

The media and the royal family

The media interest in the opinions and privacy of the royal family in the 1980s led to a series of sensational revelations, the veracity of which was not always established. Like Kelvin MacKenzie, The Sun’s editor-in-chief tells his staff, “Give me some royal pranks. Do not worry if this is not true as there are not too many problems afterwards ”120. The editor of The Observer, Donald Trelford, writes in the September 21, 1986 issue: “The royal soap has reached such a degree of public interest that the line between fiction and reality has been lost sight of… It is not simply that some newspapers do not verify their information or refuse to accept denials: they do not care whether these stories are true or not ”.

Relations with Margaret Thatcher

It was reported, mainly by The Sunday Times, that the Queen was concerned that the economic policies of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were further dividing society and that she was alarmed by the high unemployment rate, a series of riots in 1981, the violence of the miners’ strike and the government’s refusal to sanction the apartheid regime in South Africa. The rumors originated from the Queen’s Assistant, Michael Shea, and Commonwealth Secretary General, Shridath Ramphal, but Shea argued that his words were taken out of context and then amplified by reporters121. Thatcher is said to have said that the Queen was going to vote for her opponents of the Social Democratic Party122. Thatcher’s biographer, John Campbell, claimed that this was “an example of journalistic nonsense” 123.

Contradicting reports of their poor relationship, Thatcher subsequently expressed his personal admiration for the Queen124 and after her replacement by John Major, the Queen placed her in the Orders of Merit and the Garter.

L’annus horribilis (1992)

In early 1991, press estimates of the Queen’s personal wealth that were higher than the palace data and revelations of adultery and strained marriages in the royal family weakened support for the monarchy in the United States. United Kingdom126. The participation of the Queen’s children in a charity game show called It’s a Royal Knockout was ridiculed in the press127 and the Queen became the butt of mockery128.

It is in this context that the year 1992 begins, which the Queen describes as annus horribilis (“horrible year” 129) in a speech on November 24, 1992, marking her 40 years of reign. Indeed, in March, his second son Prince Andrew of York and his wife Sarah Ferguson parted ways; in April, her daughter, Princess Anne divorced her husband Mark Phillips130; during an official visit to Germany in October, demonstrators in Dresden threw eggs at him131 and in November Windsor Castle was hit by a serious fire. The monarchy was criticized and this increased the disenchantment of the public132. In an unusually personal speech, the Queen said that any institution should expect criticism, but suggested that they should be carried out with “a touch of humor, delicacy and understanding” 133. Two days later, Prime Minister John Major announced a reform of the finances of the monarchy which resulted in a reduction of the civil list and forced the sovereign to pay income tax for the first time in its history134. In December, Prince Charles and his wife Diana Spencer officially announced their separation135. The year ended with a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by the Queen against The Sun newspaper, which published the text of its Christmas address two days before it was broadcast. The newspaper was ordered to pay legal costs and compensation of £ 200,000 which was given to charities136.

Reign in the European Union (1993-2020)

The kingdom accepts the liberal evolution of the EEC in the European Union during the three decades of the years 1990, 2000 and 2010.

Maastricht Treaty (1993)

The Treaty on European Union (or Maastricht Treaty) was signed on February 7, 1992 by British Prime Minister John Major. It is the founding treaty of the European Union.

The treaty was ratified by the House of Commons on May 20, 1993, followed by Royal Assent from the Queen. It entered into force on November 1, 1993 without any referendum being held for the British people to ratify it.

Death of Diana (1997)

The revelations about Charles and Diana’s marriage continued137 after their separation in 1992. Although Republican ideas seemed more popular than ever in the UK, Republicanism remained in the minority and the Queen retained high levels of approval138. Critics focused more on the institution of the monarchy and the Queen’s extended family than on her actions and behavior. After discussing it with Prime Minister John Major, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, her private secretary Robert Fellowes and her husband, she wrote to Charles and Diana at the end of December 1995 to tell them that a divorce was underway. preferable 140.

A year after the divorce in 1996, Diana died in a traffic accident in Paris on August 31, 1997. The Queen was on vacation with Charles and his grandchildren, William and Harry, at Balmoral Castle. Diana’s two children wanted to go to church and the royal couple accompanied them there in the morning141. After this one public appearance, the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh shielded their grandchildren from the media whirlwind by keeping them at the castle for five days142 but public opinion was appalled that the royal family had failed to report. bern the flags of Buckingham Palace118,143. Pressed by the hostile reactions, the Queen returned to London and agreed to give a televised address on September 5, the day before Diana’s funeral144. She expressed her admiration for Diana and her “grandmother” feelings for Princes William and Harry145; this act was appreciated by public opinion and hostility weakened.

Golden Jubilee (2002)

In 2002, Elisabeth II celebrated her 50 years of reign during her golden jubilee. As her sister and mother died in February and March respectively, the media questioned whether the jubilee was going to be a success or a failure146. She again undertakes a long tour of her kingdoms, starting in Jamaica in February, whose farewell banquet she describes as “memorable” after a power cut had plunged the Governor General’s residence into darkness147. As in 1977, demonstrations of joy took place at each of his trips and monuments are named in his honor. One million people attend the three-day jubilee celebrations in London every day148 and the enthusiasm shown by the crowds is far greater than what journalists had expected149.

Health problems

Although she had had few health problems during her life, she had surgery on both knees in 2003. On October 9, 2004, she opened the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh – although MPs from the constituent nation held a first there. meeting on September 7 – consequence of the Scotland Act 1998.

In October 2006, she did not participate in the inauguration of the new Emirates Stadium in London due to a muscle tear in her back which had handicapped her since the summer.

Two months later, during a public appearance, she wears a bandage on her right hand, which is interpreted by the press as a sign of poor health151. She had actually been bitten by one of her corgis while two of them were fighting.

Relationship with Tony Blair

In May 2007, The Daily Telegraph advanced from anonymous sources that the Queen was “exasperated and disappointed” by the policies of Prime Minister Tony Blair, that she was worried about the depletion of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and that she had repeatedly expressed concerns about its rural policies153. According to the same sources, she nevertheless admired Blair’s efforts to end the violence in Northern Ireland.

Reconciliation with Ireland

Ireland’s relations with the Crown have been very tense since its independence on December 6, 1922 and since the proclamation of the republic on April 18, 1949. During her reign, the Queen was also deeply affected by the assassination of her uncle by marriage Louis Mountbatten, perpetrated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army on August 27, 1979.

On March 20, 2008, ten years after the Good Friday Agreement, the Queen attends the first Maundy Thursday Mass outside England and Wales, in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh of the Church of Ireland (in Northern Ireland) 155.

At the invitation of the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, the Queen made in May 2011, the first official visit of a British monarch to Ireland since her separation from the kingdom on December 6, 1922.

Last official trips (2010-2011)

Elizabeth II addressed a second time as Head of the Commonwealth to the United Nations General Assembly in July 2010157. During her stay in New York, following a visit to Canada, she inaugurated a memorial garden for the British victims of the attacks of September 11, 200158. The Queen’s visit to Australia in October 2011, her eleventh since 1954, is described as a “farewell tour” by the press because of her age.

The Queen opens the Summer Olympics on July 27 and the Summer Paralympics on August 29, 2012 in London. She plays her own role in a short film as part of the opening ceremony with Daniel Craig as James Bond164. His father opened the 1948 Olympic Games in London, and his great-grandfather, Edward VII, those of 1908, also in London. Elizabeth II had also opened those of 1976 in Montreal and Philip those of 1956 in Melbourne165. She is thus the first head of state to open two Olympiads in two different countries166.

In December 2012, she became the first British sovereign to attend a peacetime British cabinet meeting since George III in 1781, and Foreign Secretary William Hague shortly thereafter announced that the previously unnamed part of the southern British Antarctic Territory would be named Queen Elizabeth Land in her honor.

Rehabilitation of Alan Turing (2013)

Alan Turing is a mathematician who committed suicide in 1954 because of his conviction for homosexuality. Turing had fought in WWII on behalf of MI6, deciphering German codes, but was soon after sentenced to chemical castration.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on behalf of the British government169, presented his regrets in September 2009.

In December 2012, a group of eleven British scientists, including physicist Stephen Hawking, called on the British Government to overturn his conviction, posthumously170,171.

Finally on December 24, 2013, Queen Elizabeth II signed a royal act of clemency, on the proposal of Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling, who declared that it was a sentence “that we would consider today as unjust and discriminatory171”. This is the fourth time since 1945 that the royal prerogative of grace has been exercised

Scottish Referendum (2014)

Although the Queen is held to an unwavering reserve on the political affairs of her kingdom, the independence of Scotland does not leave her indifferent. She took advantage of her exit from mass on September 14, 2014, near her summer residence in Balmoral, to say a few words to the inhabitants who had come to greet her: “I hope that people will think carefully about the future before going. vote Thursday ”. This statement would be a sign to many that the Queen wants the no to win four days later in the Scottish independence referendum. In the end, the “no” won with 55.3% of the votes cast.

Brexit (2016-2020)

After Prime Minister David Cameron held a referendum on June 23, 2016 on the UK’s membership of the European Union, the British voted in favor of the withdrawal. The House of Commons authorized the government to initiate the process of leaving the European Union on March 13, 2017175, confirmed by royal assent from the Queen three days later. Prime Minister Theresa May initiates the Article 50 procedure on March 29, 2017177.

In her Christmas 2018 speech, following tensions between her British subjects over the past three years, the Queen calls on them to show ‘respect’ to each other, during this period of transition to Brexit. “Even if the deepest differences separate us, treating others with respect, like a human being, is always a good first step” 178.

The Queen evokes Brexit with covered words, January 24, 2019, in a speech to the British Women’s Institute: “In our search for new answers in these modern times, I for my part prefer proven recipes, such as talking to each other with respect and respect different points of view, come together to seek common ground and never forget to take a step back ”179. In her Christmas 2019 address, she again calls on the British to overcome their divisions: “Small steps taken with faith and hope can overcome old differences and deep divisions to bring harmony and understanding180. ”

The House of Commons finally votes on January 9, 2020181 the withdrawal agreement signed on October 17, 2019, confirmed by royal assent on January 23, 2020182. The United Kingdom officially leaves the European Union on January 31, 2020.

After the European Union (since 2020)

Covid-19 pandemic

On March 19, 2020, Queen Elizabeth II retired as a precaution to Windsor Castle as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United Kingdom. The 93-year-old sovereign had already announced in the days preceding the postponement of several public commitments due to the pandemic184. On April 5, 2020, Elizabeth II addresses the British nation and the Commonwealth in an exceptional televised address, the fourth since the start of her reign, recorded from Windsor Castle where the Queen is confined with her husband. She says: “I hope that in the years to come everyone can be proud of how [the British people] have responded to this challenge. Those who succeed us will say that the British of this generation were as strong as any. May the attributes of self-discipline, good quiet resolve and comradeship always characterize this country “185. The following May 8, on the occasion of the commemorations of the end of the Second World War, the Queen gives a new speech, broadcast on the BBC at 8 p.m., the exact time at which her father King George VI s’ was voiced on the radio in 1945, in which she notably called on the British “never to lose hope” 186.

The Queen resumed her official commitments in October 2020 on the occasion of an inauguration187. She appears masked for the first time on November 4, 2020, for the 100th anniversary of the burial of the Unknown Soldier at Westminster Abbey188. The same month, because of the risk of contamination linked to the virus, Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip returned to Windsor Castle, about 40 kilometers from London189.

On January 9, 2021, Buckingham Palace announces that the Queen and her husband have received a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine against Covid-19190. In February, the palace released a video in which the Queen urges Britons to get vaccinated, stressing that reluctant people “should think of others rather than themselves”

Death of Prince Philip (2021)

On April 9, 2021, after more than seventy-three years of marriage, her husband, Prince Philip, died at Windsor Castle at the age of 99. Queen Elizabeth II said in a statement that she was deeply affected by his passing, saying he was her strength. Philip was also considered to be the second “pillar” of the monarchy after her

Future Republic of Barbados

On September 16, 2020, the Governor General of Barbados, Sandra Mason, announces in a speech that her country will become a republic by November 30, 2021. In a speech given from the capital, the latter declares: “Having obtained its independence more than half a century ago, our country can harbor no doubts about its capacity to manage itself ”. The reign of Elizabeth II, ascended to the Barbadian throne in 1966, should therefore end with the advent of the republic in Barbados.

Platinum Jubilee (2022)

In November 2020, Buckingham Palace announces that on the occasion of the 70 years of the reign of Elizabeth II, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will be celebrated on four public holidays in June 2022. The Secretary of State Culture, Oliver Dowden, says the celebrations, which will take place June 2-4, will follow an extensive program of events, with cutting-edge art and technology exhibits. He specifies that these will be interspersed with large “traditional bands from all over the country and celebrations”. The government also says “spectacular moments in London and other major cities will be complemented by events in communities across the UK and the Commonwealth, allowing people to come together in celebration and thanksgiving to the national and local level ”

Longevity of reign

Queen Elizabeth II is the most advanced British monarch with the longest reign before Victoria (since September 9, 2015) 195. She has reigned for 69 years, and is the oldest ruler still in office since the death of King Rama IX of Thailand on October 13, 2016.

In November 2019, rumors relayed by certain British media suggested that the queen would consider abdicating within “a few years”, and more precisely on the occasion of her 95th birthday, in 2021, but relatives of the royal family deny these rumors. The Queen has no intention of abdicating, although her public engagements are increasingly taken on by her eldest son as the years go by.

The Queen celebrated her 94th birthday on April 21, 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, without the traditional 41 cannon shots fired from Hyde Park. In October 2020, while the Prince of Wales seemed to “prepare for his future role”, in particular by separating from his organic farm which he had taken care of for twenty years, several observers raised the possibility that the queen would decide, after her 95th birthday anniversary in 2021, of “passing the torch to Charles”. The latter nevertheless specify that it would not be an abdication of the queen, but a period of regency where Charles would be granted by his mother extended powers.

Public image and personality

As Elizabeth II only granted rare public interviews, little is known about her private opinions. As a constitutional monarch, she does not express her political opinions in public. She has a deep sense of religious and civic duties and takes her coronation oath very seriously. Alongside her official religious role as supreme governor of the Church of England, she frequents that Church and that of Scotland. She testified to her support for interreligious dialogue and met the heads of other Churches and religions including four popes: John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.

Elizabeth II is the patron of more than 600 organizations200. Among her main interests are horseback riding and dogs, in particular the Welsh Corgis201 which she has been passionate about since 1933 and Dookie, the first Corgi owned by her family202,203.

In the 1950s at the start of her reign, Elizabeth II was considered a “fairy tale queen” 204. After the trauma of the war, the period of progress and modernization was presented as a “new Elizabethan era205”. In this regard, Lord Altrincham’s 1957 words accusing his speeches of being “a sufficient schoolgirl” were particularly unusual206. In the 1960s, the monarchy tried to send a more modern image by making the television documentary Royal Family showing the royal family in everyday life and by broadcasting the investiture of Prince Charles207. The queen got into the habit of wearing brightly colored overcoats and decorated hats that allowed her to be easily seen in a crowd.

During its Silver Jubilee in 1977, crowds were genuinely enthusiastic209, but press revelations about the monarchy in the 1980s increased criticism of it210. Elizabeth II’s popularity continued to decline in the 1990s and under public pressure she was forced to pay income tax and open Buckingham Palace. Disaffection with the monarchy reached its peak after Diana’s death, although it diminished after the Queen’s address six days later.

In November 1999, Australian voters rejected the abolition of the Australian monarchy in a referendum213. Polls in Britain in 2006 and 2007 revealed strong support for Elizabeth II214,215,216 and referendums in Tuvalu in 2008 and in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009 rejected Republican proposals.

Personal wealth and investments in tax havens

Elizabeth II’s personal fortune has been the subject of much speculation over the years. Forbes magazine estimated in 2010 that his property would be worth around $ 450 million218 but an official statement from Buckingham Palace in 1993 called the £ 100 million estimate “grossly exaggerated” 219. Jock Colville, who was one of his private secretaries and the director of his bank, Coutts, estimated his wealth in 1971 at 2 million pounds (the equivalent of about 23 million pounds in 2012220,221,222). The Royal Collection (which includes works of art and the British Crown Jewels) is not personally owned by the Queen and is managed by a trust223 as are royal residences such as Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle224 and the Duchy of Lancaster, an investment portfolio valued in 2011 at 383 million pounds225. Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle are personal property of the Queen. The Crown Estate portfolio managing the assets of the British Crown was worth £ 7.3 billion in 2011226, but is independent from the Queen.

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