Queen Elizabeth II, who marked 70 years on the throne this year, was the oldest and longest-reigning monarch in British history.
She endured through 15 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss, becoming an institution and an icon — a reassuring presence even for those who ignored or loathed the monarchy.
She became less visible in her final years as age and frailty curtailed many public appearances. But she remained firmly in control of the monarchy and at the center of national life as Britain celebrated her Platinum Jubilee earlier with days of parties and pageants in June.
When Elizabeth was 21, almost five years before she became queen, she promised the people of Britain and the Commonwealth that “my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”
It was a promise she kept across more than seven decades.
Here is a look at a selection of photos spanning Queen Elizabeth II’s seven-decade reign:
—Feb. 6, 1952: Elizabeth becomes queen upon the death of her father George VI.
—June 2, 1953: Crowned in a grand coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey. She sets out on a tour of the Commonwealth, visiting places including Bermuda, Fiji, Tonga, Australia, and Gibraltar.
—Feb. 19, 1960: Elizabeth’s third child, Prince Andrew, is born.
—March 10, 1964: Elizabeth’s fourth child, Prince Edward, is born.
—May 1965: Elizabeth makes a historic visit to West Germany, the first German visit by a British monarch in 52 years.
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—1977: Elizabeth celebrates her Silver Jubilee, which marks 25 years on the throne.
—Oct. 1986: Elizabeth travels to China becoming the first British sovereign to visit there.
—1992: Elizabeth has what she describes as an “annus horribilis,” or a “horrible year.” The year sees marriages for three of her four children end. Also that year, a fire damages Windsor Castle. Public outcry over the cost of repairs amid a recession prompts the queen to volunteer to pay income taxes.
—Aug. 31, 1997: Princess Diana dies in a car crash in Paris. Under public pressure to demonstrate her grief, Elizabeth makes an unprecedented television broadcast in tribute to Diana’s memory.
—2002: Elizabeth marks 50 years of reign with her Golden Jubilee. The year also sees the deaths of Elizabeth’s mother and her sister, Margaret.
—Dec. 20, 2007: Elizabeth becomes the longest-living British monarch, overtaking Queen Victoria.
—May 2011: Elizabeth makes a historic visit to Ireland — the first visit by a British monarch since Irish independence.
—2012: Elizabeth marks 60 years of her reign with a Diamond Jubilee.
—Sept. 9, 2015: Elizabeth surpasses Queen Victoria and becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history.
—June 11, 2016: Britain celebrates Elizabeth’s official 90th birthday with three days of national festivities.
— March 2020: Elizabeth and Philip move from Buckingham Palace in London to Windsor Castle at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
—April 9, 2021: Prince Philip, Elizabeth’s husband of 73 years, dies at age 99.
–Sept. 8, 2022: Elizabeth dies at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at age 96. Her eldest son becomes King Charles III.