Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of the House of Windsor, Queen Elizabeth II went from heiress presumptive to the leader of the commonwealth in less than 20 years, later becoming Britain's longest-lived and longest-reigning monarch, as well as the world's longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state. Her reign has included 12 British prime ministers, seven archbishops of Canterbury and seven popes, as well as 11 elected U.S. presidents. Click through the gallery above to see some of the most important moments from the queen's life and legacy.
The Girl Who Would Be Queen
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on April 21, 1926, the first child of the then-Duke and Duchess of York. She was named Elizabeth after her mother, Alexandra after her paternal grandfather, King George V's, mother, who had died six months earlier, and Mary after her paternal grandmother. Her only sibling, sister Margaret, was born in 1930.
While not originally in line to be queen, Elizabeth became the heiress presumptive in 1936, when her father, King George VI, assumed the throne following the abdication of his older brother, King Edward VIII.
A Royal Wedding
On November 20, 1947, then-Princess Elizabeth wed Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh -- formerly Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark -- at Westminster Abbey. Less than a year later, they welcomed their first child, son Prince Charles.
Prince Charles' Christening
Princess Elizabeth was beaming at the christening of her firstborn, Prince Charles, in 1948. Charles is the eldest of four; his younger siblings are Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
Following the death of her father in 1952, Elizabeth ascended the throne at age 25, becoming sovereign of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Her coronation, the first British ceremony to be televised, was held at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, following a period of transition and mourning for King George VI.
Heads of State
Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne during Winston Churchill's tenure as British Prime Minister, and the duration of her reign has seen 11 more prime ministers, seven archbishops of Canterbury, seven popes, as well as 11 elected U.S. presidents.
The Royal Family
Following Prince Charles' birth, the Queen and Prince Philip welcomed three more children: Anne, Princess Royal, in 1950; Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in 1960; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, in 1964. As the eldest, Charles, Prince of Wales, will succeed his mother as the head of the Commonwealth.
In 1991, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the United States, enjoying a formal dinner with then-President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush. During her visit, the Queen also became the first British monarch to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress.
Queen Elizabeth II has served as the figurehead for the British royal family and the commonwealth during times of great joy, as well as great sorrow, such as the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in August 1997.
The New Generation
Queen Elizabeth II's reign has also seen the growth of the royal family, and birth of new successors to the throne. The Queen celebrated Prince William's nuptials to Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011, bestowing the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge upon the couple on their wedding day.
In June 2012, the Queen became just the second British monarch, following Queen Victoria, to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee, in recognition of her 60 years on the throne. Three years later, Queen Elizabeth II would surpass Victoria, her great grandmother, to become Britain's longest-reigning monarch.
The Queen became a great-grandmother in July 2013, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child, Prince George, who is in line for succession to the throne just behind his father. The couple later welcomed a daughter, Princess Charlotte, in May 2015.
Queen Elizabeth II has had many dogs since childhood, but she's most famously known for her dozens of corgis. In fact, she's had over 30 since taking reign as queen, including dorgi mixes, and she posed with four of them -- Holly, Willow, Vulcan and Candy -- for Vanity Fair in 2016. The last of her royal corgis, Whisper, died in October 2018.
In 2017, the Queen became the first British monarch to reach her Sapphire Jubilee, celebrating 65 years of her reign. In celebration of the milestone, the royal family released a new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, in which the monarch wore sapphire jewelry gifted to her as a wedding present by her father and predecessor, King George VI.
Presiding Over Prince Harry's Wedding
The monarch was all smiles at the wedding of her grandson, Prince Harry, to former American actress Meghan Markle at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018.