Leadership

Marathon ma'am: Queen Elizabeth II's 65 years on the throne

Queen Elizabeth II, then age 89, smiles as she arrives at Tweedbank Station in Scotland, Sept. 9, 2015.
Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II has passed another milestone as the U.K.'s longest-reigning monarch: Her Sapphire Jubilee - that's 65 years on the throne.

Having acceded to the throne at age 25, Elizabeth became the U.K.'s longest reigning monarch in September 2015 when she surpassed Queen Victoria's record of almost 64 years.

During her reign, the queen has been patron to hundreds of charities and organizations, as well as being one of the world's most well-traveled heads of state.

CNBC looks back at some of the British monarch's most memorable moments - before and after she took the throne.


A bright future awaits

A portrait of Princess Elizabeth (L) | Princess Elizabeth with two corgi dogs at her home (R)
Getty Images: Picture Post / Lisa Sheridan | Hulton Royals Collection

Elizabeth was born April 21, 1926, the first child of the then-Duke and Duchess of York. In 1930, Elizabeth's parents gave birth to her sister, Princess Margaret Rose.

"Lilibet" leapt up the line of ascension faster than anyone had expected after her uncle, childless King Edward VIII, abdicated in December 1936 over his romance with divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth's father became King George VI, putting her next in line to the throne.


Princess on duty

Then-Princess Elizabeth learns how to change a car tire as an auxiliary officer of the English Army, 1945.
Roger Viollet | Getty Images

During World War II, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service at the age of 18 in 1945, with the rank of subaltern. By the time the war ended, she had become a junior commander.

Falling in love

The Royal family group at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth, and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.
Fox Photos | Hulton Royals Collection | Getty Images

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, her third cousin and a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gluecksburg, met in 1934 at the wedding of Philip's cousin, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. However it wasn't until July 1947 until the pair were officially engaged. They married on November 20, 1947.

Motherhood

The royal family at Buckingham Palace, London, 1972. Left to right: Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Edward and Prince Charles.
Fox Photos | Hulton Royals Collection | Getty Images

A year later, November 14, 1948, Elizabeth gave birth to the first of her four children, Prince Charles. Before ascending to the throne, Elizabeth had two children, Charles and Princess Anne (1950), who were then followed by Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964.

Queen Elizabeth II begins her reign

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave from the balcony at Buckingham Palace during the queen's coronation celebrations June 2, 1953.
Keystone | Getty Images

King George VI died on February 6, 1952, making the 25-year-old princess Queen. More than a year later, on June 2, 1953, she was crowned at Westminster Abbey in the first British coronation to be televised.

Charities

Queen Elizabeth II visits the new Barnardo's HQ in Barkingside on December 10, 2013
Chris Radburn - WPA Pool | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Members of the royal family represent numerous organizations and charities worldwide. More than 3,000 groups list a royal as a patron or president. The Queen has been the patron of over 600 organizations which includes causes linked to the environment, education and health.

Attending royal events

HM Queen Elizabeth II unveils a striking bronze statue, created by sculptor Mark Coreth of legendary racehorse Frankel on the opening day of Royal Ascot 2015 at Ascot racecourse
Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images

Being a member of the royal family means attending a whole range of gatherings from sport and charity events to gardening shows. However, as an avid race-goer and owner of several horses, Elizabeth especially looks forward to attending the Royal Ascot horse-racing event in Berkshire, a county west of London, every June.

Tradition

Queen Elizabeth II sits at a desk in the Regency Room after recording her Christmas Day broadcast to the Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace on December 24, 2016
Yui Mok - WPA Pool | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Ceremony and pageantry are a core part of the British royal family. Among the regular duties Elizabeth carries out include opening parliament, making the annual Christmas speech and attending Trooping the Colour - a ceremony performed by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies.

An ever-expanding family

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are joined by members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Trooping the Colour ceremony
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Elizabeth wasn't alone in undertaking national duties.

International relations

U.S. President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive at Winfield House.
Yui Mok - WPA Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Elizabeth's travels have circled the world several times and she has met countless leading figures inside and out of Europe.

Beloved by many

Mark Cuthbert | UK Press | Getty Images

Elizabeth's relationship with the British public has always been a warm one.

Celebrating 50 years as Queen

Queen Elizabeth (R) and Prince Philip ride in the Golden State Carriage at the head of a parade celebrating the Queen's Golden Jubilee June 4, 2002
Sion Touhig | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

In 2002, the U.K. celebrated 50 years of Elizabeth's reign. Celebrations were held across the country particularly during the summer, and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh traveled to every region of the U.K. and the Commonwealth to mark the occasion.

Staying strong in times of trouble

The queen with a firefighter inspecting damage at Windsor Castle.
Getty Images: Tim Graham | Corbis Historical/Tim Graham Photo Library

On November 20, 1992, the queen's 45th wedding anniversary, a fire at Windsor Castle caused extensive damage that took years to repair. But that was just one of a string of events that prompted the queen to declare 1992 her "annus horribilis." Prince Andrew's separation with the former Sarah Ferguson was announced in March. The next month, Princess Anne divorced Captain Mark Phillips. In June, Princess Diana's tell-all book was published. Its revelations included husband Charles' affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.

A love for animals

Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor Park photographing her corgis in 1960, in England
Anwar Hussein | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Aside from horses, another animal the Queen is known for are her Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Official photographs

Royal family members pose for a photograph ahead of the annual evening reception for members of the Diplomatic Corps at Buckingham Palace
DOMINIC LIPINSKI | AFP | Getty Images

Being a royal, keeping up with appearances and official photographs are just some of the many duties the Queen has to undertake. This photo was taken in Buckingham Palace in December 2016.