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70th Anniversary of the Accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the British Throne

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Authored by British Online Archives
Published on 4th February, 2022 2 min read

70th Anniversary of the Accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the British Throne

On the left, a painting of the young queen, and on the right a more up to date photo of the queen.

Today (06/02/2022) marks the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the British throne. Elizabeth Windsor is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch, as well as the longest-serving female head of state in history.

On this day in 1952, Elizabeth’s father, King George VI passed away of a coronary thrombosis at the age of 56. Princess Elizabeth and her husband Philip were carrying out royal duties in Kenya at the time. Without delay she returned home and was proclaimed queen at the age of 25.

When Elizabeth inherited the throne in 1952 she became queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, as well as Head of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The Commonwealth was formally constituted in 1949 by the London Declaration, and is currently comprised of fifty-four sovereign states. These states are almost all former territories of the British Empire. The decline of the British Empire, coupled with increased self-governance, meant a number of countries ceased to recognise the British monarch as their respective head of state, but recognised them as Head of the Commonwealth instead.

Elizabeth has reigned as constitutional monarch through 70 years of major political and social transformation. Upon her accession to the throne the British Prime Minister was Winston Churchill, and the country was recovering from the consequences of the Second World War. Subsequently, the queen has been served by 14 different Prime Ministers from both ends of the political spectrum.

The Platinum Jubilee will be celebrated across the Commonwealth. In the United Kingdom, there will be an extra bank holiday, and the usual Spring bank holiday will be moved from the end of May to the start of June, to create a four day Jubilee bank holiday weekend. During this weekend the government has promised to “mix the best of British ceremonial splendour and pageantry with cutting edge artistic and technological displays”.

Authored by British Online Archives

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