As the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday, she can look back on a busy life which has seen many changes.
Born Princess Elizabeth of York in Mayfair on April 21, 1926, as the daughter of Albert, Duke of York and his wife, the former Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, she would never have expected to become queen.
It was the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII which led to the biggest change in her life, meaning her parents became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and Princess Elizabeth at the age of ten, became heiress presumptive to the throne.
The young family, including Princess Elizabeth’s younger sister, Margaret, moved from their home in Piccadilly to Buckingham Palace to take their place as the Royal Family.
The early death of her father in February 1952, worn out through illness and the stresses and strains of the Second World War saw an almost parallel change in her life.
Having married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, created Duke of Edinburgh on his wedding day, in November 1947, the couple and their two eldest children lived a comparatively quieter life at Clarence House.
The Duke was a Naval officer in serving in the Mediterranean and Princess Elizabeth had spent several long spells with him in Malta, something she spoke of last year after visiting for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
The death of the King meant the new Queen and her young family, Prince Charles was three and Princess Anne only 18-months-old at the time, moved the short distance up the Mall to Buckingham Palace.
In 1960 with Prince Andrew’s birth, the Queen became the first monarch to have a child since Queen Victoria, followed by Prince Edward in 1964.
Last September saw her surpass Queen Victoria’s record as the longest reigning monarch, having reigned more than 63 years.
Like all of our lives, there have been bad times as well as good. In a speech in November of that year, the Queen referred to 1992 as her ‘annus horribilis’. It was an apt description for a year which saw the breakdown of the marriages of three of her children as well as a serious fire at Windsor Castle, where she had spent the years of the Second World War and had many happy memories for her.
The death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 saw criticism of the Queen and the Royal Family for remaining at Balmoral in the week following her death rather than returning to London earlier.
The age of television has also helped us relate to the Queen, from the ground-breaking film Royal Family in 1969, we have seen successive documentaries seeing her at work and at home, so we feel we know her to a greater or lesser degree.
Her steadfastness, sense of duty and service are qualities which we admire. We have also seen glimpses of her sense of humour; most memorably when she took part in the opening of the London Olympics with Daniel Craig as James Bond in 2012.
She has remained popular because she has remained relevant to each generation.
My auntie was a week younger than the Queen. She often used to tell the story that when she was a small child, her grandma used to compare her rosy cheeks to those of Princess Elizabeth. As she aged, she would often compare her life to Her Majesty’s and, although very different in many ways, she would look at some of the similarities such as the fact that her son was born only a few months after Princess Anne.
It’s not only the elderly: my godson, Jack is nine and he was amazed that I had been to an event and saw ‘THE QUEEN!’
I think it’s because see her as a mother-like or a grandmother-like figure, someone to whom we can all relate and share in milestones such as the outpouring of affection for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, her Golden Jubilee in 2002 and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
These showed the unique place she holds in the hearts of people not only in the UK but across the Commonwealth – and this special birthday is another opportunity to show this.