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Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, London, April 21, 1926) is the reigning monarch and head of state of sixteen sovereign states known as the Commonwealth of Nations: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, Granada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis.
She is the main political figure of fifty-four countries member of the Commonwealth of Nations. In her specific role as monarch of the United Kingdom she is at the same time the supreme governor of the Church of England. Her political role covers large areas; it has significant constitutional functions and works as a focus for national unity of the British and representing her nation around the world.
Elizabeth was born in London and was educated privately at home. Her father ascended the throne as George VI in 1936 after the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. Elizabeth began to assume public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service in the women’s branch of the British Army at the time.
When his father died in 1952, she became head of the Commonwealth of Nations and queen of seven independent countries: UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon. The celebration of her crowning in 1953 was the first to be on TV. Between 1956 and 1992, half of her realms, including South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon (later renamed Sri Lanka), became independent and turned into republics.
In 1947, she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with whom she had four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. 1992 was called annus horribilis by Elizabeth (“horrible year”), Charles and Andrew separated from their wives, Anne divorced, and a severe fire destroyed part of Windsor Castle.
Today in 2015, her reign of 62 years is the second longest in British history; has only been surpassed by that one of her great-great grandmother Victoria, who reigned for 63 years and 7 months. Queen Elizabeth II Jubilees Silver, Gold and Diamond were held in 1977, 2002 and 2012, respectively.