The Queen's monumental life in pictures, from her Westminster wedding to her Platinum Jubilee, as she dies aged 96

The Queen's life in pictures sheds light on the extraordinary experiences of Britain's longest-reigning monarch

Queen's life in pictures
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Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 96 after reigning for a momentous 70 years, Buckingham Palace has confirmed. We look back at her remarkable reign and lifetime of service, through a series of milestone photographs.

Having surpassed Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest-serving monarch in 2015, Her Majesty cemented her place in history once again when she marked her Platinum Jubilee in June Throughout her lifetime, the Queen’s unwavering dedication to her duties was an inspiration and she displayed thoughtfulness, leadership, and warmth. 

As the extended Royal Family and fans reflect upon Her Majesty’s extraordinary legacy, these pictures of Queen Elizabeth II's life show just how momentous her reign truly was. From addressing the nation on important occasions to special family moments, Queen Elizabeth II experienced so much throughout the years.

In memory of one of the most revered monarchs in British history, we look back at the Queen's life in pictures, from her coronation in 1953 to her attendance at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011.

The Queen's life in pictures

Princess Elizabeth with Princess Margaret in April 1942

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret pose on bicycles in Windsor, England on April 4, 1942

(Image credit: Photo by Studio Lisa/Getty Images)

Showcasing the Queen’s bond with her younger sister Princess Margaret, the two royals were pictured going for a bike ride together on the grounds of the Royal Lodge in April 1942. Located close to Windsor Castle, she and Princess Margaret spent a huge part of their childhoods in Berkshire and even lived there during World War II instead of being evacuated further afield. 


Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip announce engagement in July 1947

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

The engagement of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten was officially announced on July 9, 1947. And they started off their love story in a thoroughly modern way, sharing their happy news via global media broadcasts of pictures and videos. Prince Philip also designed her engagement ring himself, perhaps making this jewelry piece one of the most unique in the Queen’s stunning collection. 


Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip marry in November 1947

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Four months after announcing their engagement, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip married at Westminster Abbey. A staggering 2,000 guests were invited to the wedding which was broadcast by BBC Radio to 200 million people globally and the Queen and Prince Philip couldn't have looked more in love on their special day.


The Queen becomes a mother when Prince Charles is born in November 1948

The future Queen Elizabeth II and her son Prince Charles

Picture taken a month after, in December.

(Image credit: Photo by -/INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP via Getty Images)

Yet another moment that changed the Queen’s life forever was the birth of her and Prince Philip's first child on November 14, 1948. Prince Charles arrived via Caesarean section at Buckingham Palace and became first in the royal line of succession. It's understood that the King's Troop Royal Artillery fired a 41 gun salute and the bells of Westminster Abbey rang in celebration of Prince Charles' birth. 


Queen Elizabeth attends King George VI's funeral in February 1952

Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Eric Hamilton, Dean of Windsor at the funeral of her father King George VI

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Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II when King George VI died in February 1952. The King’s coffin lay in Westminster Hall where 305,806 people filed past to pay their respects ahead of the funeral service on February 15. Wearing a black veil and dress, the Queen accompanied the procession to St George’s Chapel and this is said to have marked the first time a funeral procession for a British monarch was televised. Reflecting on the sudden loss of her father, his funeral was a deeply moving moment for the Queen as she prepared to follow in his footsteps.


Queen Elizabeth II's coronation is held in 1953

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave at the crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II's coronation took place on June 2 in 1953 at Westminster Abbey, making her the 39th Sovereign to be crowned there. She and the Duke of Edinburgh were driven to the Abbey in the Gold State Coach and the coronation lasted almost three hours and had 8,251 guests. One of the Queen’s children got to enjoy the big moment too, with Prince Charles becoming the first child to witness his mother’s coronation. Her Majesty was crowned with St Edward’s Crown, wore the Coronation Ring, and held the orb.


Queen Elizabeth embarks on a Commonwealth Tour in 1954

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrive at Parliament House in Hobart, Tasmania, during their Commonwealth Tour of Australia

(Image credit: Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Starting off her reign with the longest-ever tour of the commonwealth nations, the Queen was traveling from November 1953 until May 1954. The tour had originally been underway when King George VI died, leading the Queen to return from Kenya in mourning before resuming her travels after her coronation. 

During her time abroad, Her Majesty visited 13 countries and reportedly covered 40,000 miles. She was accompanied on the tour by Prince Philip and the royals were welcomed home via the River Thames on the Royal Yacht Britannia. 


Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe meet in October 1956

Queen Elizabeth II of England offers a gloved hand to Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe

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The Queen and movie star Marilyn Monroe were introduced in 1953 at the premiere of The Battle of the River Plate at Leicester Square in London. At the time both women were 30 years old and Marilyn even got the opportunity to shake the Queen’s hand as she attended the premiere to accompany her then-husband, Arthur Miller. The pair wore stunning gowns and the Queen also showcased the glittering pearl and diamond Vladimir tiara


Queen Elizabeth and President Eisenhower pose for a picture in October 1957

Queen Elizabeth II with US president Dwight D Eisenhower at a White House State banquet

(Image credit: Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Throughout her reign, the Queen met thirteen out of the last fourteen American Presidents and it was President Dwight D Eisenhower who hosted her for her first state visit to the United States since being crowned monarch of the UK. She was greeted at the White House by the President and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. 

And it wasn't long before Her Majesty returned the favor, hosting President Eisenhower at her Scottish home, Balmoral.


Queen Elizabeth in her first televised Christmas Day broadcast in December 1957

Queen Elizabeth II making her 1957 Christmas broadcast to the nation from Sandringham

(Image credit: Photo by Daily Herald Archive/National Science & Media Museum/SSPL via Getty Images)

Settling down to watch the Queen’s Christmas Day speech has long been a tradition for many families, but it wasn’t always the case. The Queen’s first televised festive broadcast actually only went out in December 1957, four years after her coronation. 

Up until then, fans could enjoy the monarch’s reflections on the past year via radio, but there was nothing quite like seeing the Queen delivering her words of wisdom to the nation. This is something even the monarch appeared to agree with as she is said to have expressed her hope in her first televised speech that they’d be more “personal” going forwards.


Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip take a trip to Balmoral in September 1972

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit a farm on the Balmoral estate in Scotland, during their Silver Wedding anniversary year

(Image credit: Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Over the years, reports have claimed that Balmoral was the Queen’s favorite residence and it was here that she enjoyed an annual summer holiday with her nearest and dearest. It was also a very special place for her and Prince Philip and they visited Balmoral during their Silver Wedding Anniversary year in 1972. 

Several portraits were released later that year to mark the date itself, all taken during that summer’s trip to Scotland. Since then the couple went on to celebrate many more milestone anniversaries with Balmoral continuing to hold a special place in their hearts.  


Queen Elizabeth watches Princess Anne compete at the Olympics in July 1976

Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Edward watching Princess Anne compete in the Equestrian event at the 1976 Summer Olympics

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

During the Royal Family’s trip to Canada in 1976, Her Majesty made sure she got to watch her only daughter, Princess Anne, as she formed part of the Equestrian Team that represented Great Britain at the Montreal Olympics. It was the Queen as the Head of State of Canada who officially opened the Games in both French and English, showing off her impressive language skills.


Queen Elizabeth marks her Silver Jubilee year in 1977

Queen Elizabeth ll greets the public during a Silver Jubilee walkabout on January 01, 1977

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

The Silver Jubilee saw celebrations take place all throughout the UK and the Commonwealth, beginning with a church service in February to mark the Queen’s Accession Day. And the festivities didn’t stop there as that summer she set out around the country after deciding she wanted to mark the occasion by meeting as many people as she could. Across six jubilee tours in the UK and Northern Ireland, the monarch is said to have covered a staggering 36 counties. 


Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer wed in July 1981 with the Queen by their side

The Prince and Princess of Wales pose on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day, with the Queen and some of the bridesmaids

(Image credit: Photo by Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

The Queen was a guest of honor as Prince Charles marry Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1981. Crowds lined the streets to see the newlyweds and Her Majesty, with the Queen opting for a vibrant blue outfit for the momentous occasion. All three waved to the crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace in one of the most unmissable moments in royal history. 


Queen Elizabeth attends Prince William's christening in August 1982

Diana, Princess of Wales holding her son Prince William with Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother at Buckingham Palace after Prince William's christening ceremony

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Although she was already a proud grandmother when Prince William was born, his christening was another significant occasion for the Queen as the new royal baby was destined to follow in her footsteps as monarch. The future King’s christening also took place on the Queen Mother’s birthday and he wore the same gown as his father and grandmother before him. 


The Queen attends the funeral of Princess Diana in September 1997

At Princess Diana's funeral, Queen Elizabeth II greets mourners waiting in line to sign the condolence book

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The funeral of Princess Diana was a deeply poignant service and according to reports, Her Majesty bowed her head as Princess Diana’s coffin passed as a sign of respect. Typically it’s the Queen who was bowed to as the Sovereign, but she is believed to have made an exception on this incredibly sad day as she remembered her former daughter-in-law.


The Queen mourns the death of her mother, the Queen Mother, in 2002

The Queen and Royal Family gather at Westminster Abbey for the funeral of the Queen Mother

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)

The Queen Mother’s public funeral was held on April 9 2002 following her death aged 102 and the night before the Queen gave a rare address to the nation. In it, Her Majesty described herself as being “deeply moved by the outpouring of affection” as she prepared to pay her respects. One of the most spectacular royal jewelry pieces of all time, the crown featuring the iconic Koh-i-Noor diamond, was placed on a purple velvet cushion on top of the Queen Mother’s coffin and she was laid to rest at St George’s Chapel.


The Queen Elizabeth enjoys her Golden Jubilee weekend in June 2002

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh ride along the Mall in an open top car

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Heading to watch a parade in her honor, the Queen and Prince Philip traveled in an open-top car through the adoring crowds at her Golden Jubilee celebrations. Over this wonderful weekend, the Buckingham Palace gardens were used for public concerts for the first time. The Queen was even awarded a gold disc from the recording industry after 100,000 copies of the CD of the 'Party at the Palace', produced by EMI, were sold within the first week of release.


Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrate their Diamond Wedding Anniversary in November 2007

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh re-visit Broadlands, to mark their Diamond Wedding Anniversary

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

The Queen and Prince Philip’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary pictures taken in 2007 captured a truly romantic moment. Returning to Broadlands in Hampshire where they spent their wedding night, the monarch and Duke of Edinburgh recreated one of their most iconic photos together as they walked in the grounds. This already precious day was also made even more emotional as the stunning location is the former home of Prince Philip’s beloved late uncle, Earl Mountbatten. 


In April 2009, the first meeting between the Queen, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama takes place

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama pose with Queen Elizabeth II at a reception at Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

The Queen met many US Presidents throughout her time on the throne and the first time she was introduced to then-President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama was a moment to remember. Fans saw Michelle place her arm around the Queen as they talked and Barack Obama later went on to describe the Queen as one of his “favorite people”. 


Queen Elizabeth attends Wimbledon in June 2010

Queen Elizabeth II waves as she attends the match between Britain's Andy Murray and Finland's Jarkko Nieminen during her visit to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships

(Image credit: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The final time Her Majesty ever graced the grass courts was back in June 2010 and according to reports she attended the iconic championships just four times during her extraordinary reign, despite being Patron of the All England Tennis and Croquet Club for many years. She passed this patronage over to the Duchess of Cambridge in 2017 and the Queen’s last Wimbledon appearance saw a rare but traditional bow to the Royal Box from the Center Court players. 


Prince William and Kate Middleton get married in April 2011 with the Queen in attendance

Carole Middleton, Queen Elizabeth ll and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attend the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

From Kate Middleton’s magnificent wedding dress to the moment Prince William first set eyes upon his bride, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding was a stand-out day for the Royal Family. For the Queen, the chance to see them marry was a special moment and she opted for a primrose yellow outfit for the springtime occasion. Her Majesty beamed throughout the ceremony and later appeared alongside the newlyweds on the Buckingham Palace balcony, looking every inch the proud grandmother of the groom.  


Queen Elizabeth undertakes a State Visit to Ireland in May 2011

Queen Elizabeth II visits Government Buildings on Merrion Street on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland

(Image credit: Photo by Mark Cuthbert-Pool/Getty Images)

Accompanied by her “strength and stay” the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen became the first British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland since 1911. Although many fans might have known the Queen spoke English and French, she impressed attendees of a state dinner when she began her speech in Irish. The then-President of Ireland, Mary McAleese is said to have told the state broadcaster RTE at the time that Her Majesty’s visit was “an extraordinary moment in Irish history - a phenomenal sign and signal of the success of the peace process”.  


June 2012 marked the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth ll, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry on board the royal barge 'Spirit of Chartwell' during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

(Image credit: Photo by Rota/ Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

The same year London hosted the Olympic Games was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The last British monarch to mark the 60-year reign milestone was Queen Victoria and people in more than 70 countries took part in Big Jubilee Lunches to celebrate, including in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, South Africa, and even in the Arctic Circle. At the Jubilee Pageant, The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry traveled on the royal barge decorated with 10,000 flowers.


Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Ascot in June 2016

Queen Elizabeth II is welcomed upone her arrival on day 2 of Royal Ascot

(Image credit: Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)

Her Majesty was known for her love of horses and regularly joined many of her royal relatives at Royal Ascot throughout her reign. Each year Ascot week begins with the Royal Procession where the Queen and other attending members of her family traveled down in their carriages. Her Majesty also had a special interest in the races as she was the owner and breeder of many thoroughbred horses, including some that have won races at Royal Ascot.  


Queen Elizabeth at one of her famous garden parties in May 2018

Queen Elizabeth II hosts a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 31, 2018 in London

(Image credit: Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Over the years the Queen traditionally hosted three parties at Buckingham Palace and one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland as a lovely way to reward and recognize public service. With a smart dress code, Her Majesty used these summer events as a time to speak with people from all walks of life who have positively impacted their community.  


The Queen attends the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May 2019

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (R) shows Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) and Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, around the 'Back to Nature Garden' garden

(Image credit: GEOFF PUGH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Always one to show support for her family members, the Queen was no different when it came to the Duchess of Cambridge’s Back to Nature Garden design at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show. Photographed being given a royal tour by her granddaughter-in-law, the Queen looked delighted to be shown around. This annual event is something Her Majesty regularly attended during her reign and she had been Patron of the Royal Horticultural Society since 1952. 


Queen Elizabeth and the royal family at the Trooping the Color in June 2019

Queen Elizabeth II, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Colour

(Image credit: Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images via Getty)

The Queen's official birthday was traditionally marked with the Trooping the Color parade. For this, the streets were lined with crowds waving flags and the display was brought to a spectacular end with an RAF fly-past, watched by the Queen from Buckingham Palace balcony. So many of the most iconic pictures of Her Majesty and her family were taken at Trooping the Color gatherings, including back in 2019 which was the last full-scale parade before the pandemic. 


Queen Elizabeth at church on Christmas Day in December 2019

Queen Elizabeth II attends the Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene

(Image credit: Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)

Traditionally the Queen headed to Sandringham House and traveled to the church of St Mary Magdalene for the Christmas Day service, where crowds lined the way hoping for a glimpse of the royals. For many people, the sight of the Queen attending church was perhaps just as much of an iconic Yuletide moment as her Christmas speech.  


Queen Elizabeth's lifelong love of horses demonstrated in a candid picture from Windsor in 2020

Queen Elizabeth II rides Balmoral Fern, a 14-year-old Fell Pony, in Windsor Home Park over the weekend of May 30 and May 31, 2020

(Image credit: Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

It was said that the Queen made the most of lockdown in the UK by going out for daily horse rides and she was well known for her love of horses. The monarch was often particularly associated with Fell Ponies - an ancient breed - which featured alongside her in her 96th birthday portrait. Though reports have suggested she also owned a number of Highlands and Shetlands throughout her life.  


The Queen sits alone at Prince Philip's funeral in April 2021

ueen Elizabeth II watches as pallbearers carry the coffin of Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh into St George's Chapel

(Image credit: Photo by Yui Mok-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Undoubtedly one of the most emotional moments for the Queen was the funeral of her beloved husband, Prince Philip. Held at St George’s Chapel in Windsor in April 2021, Covid-19 restrictions meant that the guest list only included 30 people and she sat alone with her family spaced out around her. Her Majesty bid her final farewell to the Duke of Edinburgh in the form of a private note placed on his coffin. 


Queen Elizabeth at the State Opening of Parliament in May 2021

Queen Elizabeth II delivers the Queen's Speech in the House of Lord's Chamber during the State Opening of Parliament

(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Just a few days after the royal mourning period for the Duke of Edinburgh ended, the Queen faced her first major public duty since losing him when she attended the State Opening of Parliament. She was supported by her eldest son, Prince Charles, as she gave the Queen's Speech, setting out the government’s agenda for the new session. There were so many times throughout her reign that the Queen’s commitment to her duties shone through, but this was a particularly moving moment at such a difficult time. 


Queen Elizabeth marks the start of her Platinum Jubilee year in February 2022

Queen Elizabeth II looks at a fan as she views a display of memorabilia from her Golden and Platinum Jubilees

(Image credit: Photo by Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In 2022, the Queen became the first British monarch to reign for 70 years. Ahead of Accession Day on February 6, the anniversary of the day she officially became Queen, Her Majesty viewed a selection of memorabilia from her previous jubilees at Windsor Castle. One of these precious items was a fan that was previously presented to Queen Victoria to mark her Golden Jubilee in 1887. Already a remarkable monarch, the start of her Platinum Jubilee cemented her place in history. 


Queen Elizabeth makes an appearance at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2022

Queen Elizabeth II receives the winners cup at The Royal Windsor Horse Show at Home Park on May 13, 2022 in Windsor

(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Held annually in Windsor Home Park near the Queen’s Berkshire home, the Royal Windsor Horse Show is a time where fans have often been treated to a rare glimpse of the monarch in a more casual setting. This year saw the Queen make what was then her first royal appearance in many weeks at the show and she beamed with delight during her appearance and even received the winner's cup.


Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Platinum Jubilee in June 2022

Queen Elizabeth II stands on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Platinum Pageant

(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Honoring her extraordinary milestone, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend in June 2022 saw her take to the Buckingham Palace balcony on two occasions. The second came on the final day of the celebrations where she was joined by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children. Waving to the delighted crowds outside the palace, the Queen seemed visibly moved and the future of the monarchy was clear for all to see as she stood proudly alongside three future Kings. 

The Queen receives new British Prime Minister Liz Truss at Balmoral in September 2022

Queen Elizabeth greets newly elected leader of the Conservative party Liz Truss as she arrives at Balmoral Castle

(Image credit: Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Throughout her reign Her Majesty has been served by 15 Prime Ministers including Winston Churchill and September saw her receive Liz Truss at her Aberdeenshire home. Photographed during this important moment, the Queen formally invited her to form a new Administration and upon her acceptance, Liz Truss officially became the new Prime Minister. This was the monarch’s last public official duty before she passed away and a special moment for Her Majesty as she continued to showcase her devotion to her royal duties.