The Life of Queen Elizabeth II in Color

On September 2, 1945, World War II had ended. As Great Britain and the world were settling from the unrest from the chaotic years of the turbulent war, then King George VI was dealing with his own personal turmoils. With the stresses of the war and declining health, King George was facing tremendous crises but was determined to save face and serve the people of Great Britain. By 1949, his health took an even worse turn due to his lung cancer, arteriosclerosis, and Buerger’s Disease so his heir apparent Elizabeth took on more of his royal duties because his family and the royal staff knew he would never be the same. By the beginning of 1952, King George was advised not to take any more trips outside of his official residences, but against their wishes, he decided to take a trip to London airport as he was seeing off his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Phillip’s trip to Kenya on January 31, 1952. Six days later, on February 6, 1952, King George was dead. His daughter Elizabeth immediately flew back from Kenya as Queen of her father’s kingdom, and her life changed forever. 

Color photo of King George VI of the United Kingdom photographed on 8 July 1946 at Windsor Castle. Colorization by Jecinci

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born April 21, 1926, to the then Duke of York George and his wife, the Duchess of York Elizabeth in Mayfair, London. Her sister Margaret was born four years later on August 21, 1930. At the time of Elizabeth’s birth, she was third in line to the British throne. Due to her lower succession to the throne, she was not expected to ever be queen, due to the fact that her uncle Edward was first in line to the throne after her grandfather King George V, followed by her father the Duke of York George after Edward. After her grandfather, King George V’s death in 1936, her uncle Edward was immediately made King. However, with his romance and eventual marriage with divorced American commoner Wallis Simpson, he abdicated the throne in December of the same year to be with her. Elizabeth’s father George, Duke of York was made king, making her second in line to the throne. 

Color photo of King George VI riding horses with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.
Colorization of King George VI riding a horse alongside his daughters Princess Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth II) on the right, and Princess Margaret on the left. Photograph taken in Windsor Park on the 21 April 1939. Colorization by Jecinci

During her father’s reign as king, Elizabeth and her family witnessed many prolific events in history, one being World War II. During WWII even though she and her family were advised to relocate due to safety precautions, they decided to stay for their people. To lift the spirits of Great Britain during the war, Elizabeth would often interact with the people through radio broadcasts and making public appearances to mingle with her fellow Britons. After she turned eighteen in 1944, she was appointed as an honorary second subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and she also served as one of the five Counsellors of State, in case her father, the Duke, was busy. After the war ended in 1945, Elizabeth was set on becoming more independent and wanted to go on more royal engagements overseas. It wasn’t until 1947, that she went on her first overseas tour, with her parents to Africa. While in Africa, she kept in communication with her nation back home through radio broadcasts. 

Princess Elizabeth serving as an ambulance driver for the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945. Colorization by Richard James Molloy

Also in that year, she made a big announcement; she was to marry Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. Although there was controversy due to the fact that he was not British born, this did not stop them from marrying on November 20, 1947. They were soon greeted by their firstborn child, a son, Prince Charles in 1948; followed by a daughter Princess Anne in 1950.

Colorized photos of Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and the Kennedys at Buckingham Palace
Colorized photo of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip welcoming US President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy to Buckingham Palace in 1961. Colorization by analia_vu

By 1952, her father King George had been feeble due to ill health, so Elizabeth fulfilled a lot of royal engagements he could not. A few days after seeing his daughter and her husband off to Kenya, from the London airport, King George died on February 6, 1952. Queen Elizabeth’s life was changed forever. She and Prince Philip immediately flew back from Kenya, so she could officially be coronated as the new Queen of the United Kingdom. Her coronation was held on June 2, 1953, at Westminster Abbey and was televised for Great Britain and the world to see.

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom on 2 June 1953. Colorization by Marina Amaral
Footage of the crowning ceremony at Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.

In the decades following her coronation, Queen Elizabeth has demonstrated that the leadership and influence to remain one of Great Britain’s greatest monarchs. During her reign, she has since given birth to two more princes: Andrew (1960) and Edward (1964), seen twelve Prime Ministers in office, seven archbishops, and popes. After celebrating her Sapphire Jubilee in 2017, Queen Elizabeth became the longest-running monarch in history, reigning for sixty-five years as of 2019.

If you enjoyed this article, you should definitely check out Colorized Photographs of Queen Victoria

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