Queen Elizabeth II | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II was the head of state of Canada, the United Kingdom and 13 other Commonwealth realms. She reigned from1952 to 2022, making her the longest reigning monarch in British and Commonwealth history. She was also the first monarch to be crowned Queen of Canada.

  1. April 21, 1926

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Birth of Elizabeth II

    Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born at 2:40 a.m. at the London home of her maternal grandparents, Claude and Cecilia Bowes-Lyon, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. Her parents were Prince Albert, Duke of York (the future George VI), second son of the reigning King George V, and the former Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. 

  2. May 29, 1926

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Elizabeth’s Baptism

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    Elizabeth was christened in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace on 29 May 1926. Her godparents included a former Governor General of Canada, her great-grand-uncle Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught.

  3. December 10, 1936

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Abdication Crisis

    King George V died on 20 January 1936. Elizabeth’s uncle succeeded to throne as King Edward VIII. However, he reigned for only 11 months before abdicating on 10 December to marry a twice-divorced American woman, Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth was third in line for the throne at the time of her birth, but with the ascension of her father as King George VI, she became the heiress presumptive. Her family soon moved into Buckingham Palace.

  4. Queen Elizabeth II 

    Elizabeth’s First Radio Broadcast

    At age 14, Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast, addressing the children of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth as part of the BBC Children’s Hour. “My sister, Margaret Rose and I, feel so much for you as we know from experience what it means to be away from those we love most of all,” she said. “To you living in new surroundings, we send a message of true sympathy.”

  5. April 01, 1943

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    First Solo Engagement

    Princess Elizabeth carried out her first solo engagement, spending a day with the tank battalion of the Grenadier Guards in her capacity as Honorary Colonel-in-Chief.

  6. January 01, 1945

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Elizabeth’s Military Service

    In 1945, Elizabeth became the first female member of the royal family to become a full-time active member of the British Armed Forces. She joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service as a subaltern and trained as a driver and a mechanic. By the end of the war, she had risen to the rank of junior commander. The Queen is the only current head of state who served in uniform during the Second World War.

  7. April 21, 1947

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    First Overseas Visit and Commonwealth Pledge

    From February to April 1947, Elizabeth made her first overseas visit. She travelled with her parents and younger sister to South Africa and what is now Zimbabwe. She celebrated her 21st birthday in South Africa. In a radio broadcast from Cape Town, she committed herself to a lifetime of public service devoted to the Commonwealth, stating, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

  8. July 09, 1947

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Engagement to Prince Philip

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    Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria. Elizabeth had met Philip in childhood and first became interested in him when he gave her a tour of the Dartmouth Naval College in 1939. They corresponded throughout the Second World War. Philip spent periods of leave from the Royal Navy at Windsor Castle.

  9. November 20, 1947

    Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Elizabeth’s Royal Wedding

    Elizabeth and Philip were married at Westminster Abbey in London. The ceremony was broadcast over BBC radio to an audience of 200 million people around the world, allowing Canada to share in the celebrations. Elizabeth received more than 2,500 wedding gifts. Prime Minister Mackenzie King sent the royal couple antique silver as a wedding gift, as well as a mink coat for the Princess.

  10. November 14, 1948

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Birth of Prince Charles

    The royal couple’s first child, Prince Charles, was born via Caesarean section in a Buckingham Palace guest room that Town and Country reported was turned into a “miniature hospital.” Elizabeth intended to be a hands-on mother and nursed Charles until she caught the measles when he was two months old. George VI’s declining health, however, meant that Elizabeth assumed a demanding schedule of royal engagements while her children were young. As Queen, her extensive Commonwealth tours resulted in her children spending long periods with nannies and with their grandmother,  Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

  11. August 15, 1950

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Birth of Princess Anne

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    Elizabeth and Philip’s second child and only daughter, Anne, was born at Clarence House, the London residence of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Anne became a world-class equestrian competitor and represented Great Britain at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

  12. October 08, 1951

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Royal Tour of Canada Begins

    Elizabeth visited Canada for the first time in the autumn of 1951, accompanied by Philip. The royal couple were representing George VI, who had just undergone surgery for lung cancer. There was tremendous popular interest in the tour. They were the first royal couple to visit Canada via transatlantic aircraft rather than ship. They threw themselves into Canadian pastimes, attending a  hockey game at Maple Leaf Gardens and a demonstration of the Calgary Stampede and square dancing at Rideau Hall. They were well-received by Canadians from all walks of life, though Elizabeth appeared to be quieter and more reserved than the gregarious Philip.

  13. February 06, 1952

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Death of George VI

    George VI died on 6 February 1952 while Elizabeth and Philip were representing him on a trip to Kenya. The 25-year-old Princess automatically succeeded to throne as Queen Elizabeth II. The new Queen and her husband immediately returned to the United Kingdom and ascended to the throne in a climate of tremendous public goodwill. Both her father and grandfather had been second sons who were not raised to be King but Elizabeth had been heiress presumptive from a young age and was extremely popular.

  14. June 02, 1953


    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Queen Elizabeth II Coronation

    Elizabeth II was crowned Queen at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. She made history by becoming the first monarch to be crowned Head of the Commonwealth and Queen of Canada. She was also the first monarch whose coronation was televised. Her dress included symbols from the Commonwealth realms, with embroidered maple leaves representing Canada (see also Emblems of Canada). The Queen’s unprecedented decision to permit television cameras to film the coronation allowed the entire Commonwealth to share in the celebrations. An estimated 277 million people around the world watched the coronation, many purchasing their first television set for the occasion. The coronation became the first transatlantic television broadcast, as the footage was flown to Canada to be shown on the CBC. Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent attended the coronation in London while Governor General Vincent Massey presided over the celebrations on Parliament Hill, which were attended by 100,000 people. 

  15. October 14, 1957


    Queen Elizabeth II 

    First monarch to open Parliament in Canada

    On 14 October 1957, Queen Elizabeth II became the first sovereign to open a session of Canada’s Parliament in person. She read the Speech from the Throne, a duty usually undertaken by her representative in Canada, the governor general. In her 1957 Christmas broadcast, the Queen reflected on the historic moment, stating “Last October I opened the new Canadian Parliament, and as you know this was the first time that any sovereign had done so in Ottawa. Once again I was overwhelmed by the loyalty and enthusiasm of my Canadian people.”

  16. April 01, 1959

    St Lawrence Seaway, Map

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    St Lawrence Seaway Formally Opened

    The St Lawrence Seaway was opened to commercial shipping. Queen Elizabeth II and President Eisenhower dedicated it on June 26. The Seaway provided transportation for ocean going vessels from Lake Superior to Montréal.

  17. Queen Elizabeth II 

    Birth of Prince Andrew

    Queen Elizabeth II gave birth to Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace at 3:30 p.m. As with her first two children, Elizabeth gave birth to Andrew using a method called “twilight sleep” — she was anaesthetized and the baby was delivered using forceps. Andrew’s birth marked the first time since 1857 that a child was born to a reigning British monarch.

  18. March 10, 1964

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Birth of Prince Edward

    Elizabeth gave birth to her fourth and final child, Edward, at 8:20 p.m. It was the first time Elizabeth gave birth using a conventional delivery method. It was also the only birth at which Philip was present.

  19. October 06, 1964

    Confederation Centre, Charlottetown

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Confederation Centre of the Arts Opens

    The Confederation Centre of the Arts was declared open by Queen Elizabeth II on the 100th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.

  20. October 10, 1964

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Controversial Visit to Quebec

    Until the 1960s, the monarchy was popular in Quebec because the Crown was viewed as a protector of minority rights. However, during the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, attitudes toward the monarchy changed and the Queen was seen as a symbol of British oppression. After addressing the National Assembly in French, the Queen faced crowds of protesters who turned their backs on her and chanted, “Elizabeth, go home.” The police crackdown on these protests became known as “Truncheon Sunday.”

  21. December 15, 1964

    Unveiling the New Flag

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    New Flag Adopted

    A new national flag of Canada was adopted after much debate. The Senate gave its approval on 17 December. Queen Elizabeth signed the royal proclamation on 28 January and the new flag, with its red maple leaf and side bars, flew officially for the first time on 15 February 1965.

  22. July 05, 1967

    Order of Canada

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Roland Michener Receives First Order of Canada Medal

    Governor General Roland Michener was invested by Queen Elizabeth II with the first ribbon and pendant star of the Order of Canada.

  23. June 23, 1970

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    100th Anniversary of the Northwest Territories

    The Queen visited remote communities along the Arctic Circle with Philip and her two eldest children, Charles and Anne. This high-profile tour officially marked the 100th anniversary of the Northwest Territories. But it also provided the Queen with the opportunity to engage with the Inuit and to affirm Canada’s sovereignty over the Arctic through her presence in the region.

  24. February 06, 1977

    silver-jubilee-stamp-4 -february-1977

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Silver Jubilee

    The celebrations to mark the Queen’s 25th anniversary as monarch began on 6 February. Elizabeth spent the day with her family at Windsor Castle. Church services to mark the occasion were held all month. The full jubilee celebrations were held in London on 6–7 June.

  25. March 08, 1982

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Canada Act Passed

    The British House of Commons passed the Canada Act of 1982. It was adopted by the House of Lords on March 25. The Act ended British legislative jurisdiction over Canada. Queen Elizabeth II signed the proclamation in Ottawa on April 17.

  26. April 17, 1982

    Patriation of the Constitution

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Patriation of the Constitution

    Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed the new Constitution Act on Parliament Hill.

  27. June 04, 2002


    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Gold Jubilee

    The celebrations to commemorate Elizabeth’s 50th year on the throne were organized around six themes: Celebration, Community, Service, Past and future, Giving thanks, and Commonwealth. Elizabeth and Philip travelled extensively, attending events in every region of the UK, as well as in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica. In each country, the Queen lit beacons to form a chain of 2,006 lights across the Commonwealth. The main Gold Jubilee celebrations took place in London in June and included performances by Paul McCartney, Bryan Adams, Elton John and Shirley Bassey.

  28. April 09, 2007

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Queen Re-dedicates the Vimy Memorial

    Queen Elizabeth II re-dedicated the Vimy memorial at Vimy, France, on the 90th anniversary of the battle. In her speech she said, “In any national story there are moments and places, sometimes far from home, which in retrospect can be seen as fixed points about which the course of history turns, moments which distinguish that nation for ever. Those who seek the foundations of Canada’s distinction would do well to begin here at Vimy.”

  29. June 02, 2012


    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee

    The Queen remained in the United Kingdom during the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of her reign. The Queen's children and grandchildren represented her throughout the Commonwealth for the Diamond Jubilee. Charles and Camilla visited Canada for Victoria Day weekend and were well-received.

  30. July 22, 2013

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Birth of Prince George Alexander Louis

    His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge was born in London, UK, to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William. He is the third great-grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II.

  31. May 02, 2015

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Birth of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

    Prince William and Kate Middleton, of the British royal family, welcome their second child, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge is the fifth great-grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II.

  32. September 09, 2015


    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Elizabeth II Becomes Britain’s Longest-Reigning Monarch

    Elizabeth had now served as monarch of Britain and the Commonwealth for 63 years and 216 days. At 5:30 p.m., she surpassed Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning British monarch.

  33. July 01, 2017

    Queen Elizabeth II Visits Canada

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Royal Family Attends Canada 150 Celebrations

    Charles and Camilla toured Canada for the 150th anniversary of Confederation. William and Kate marked the 150th anniversary with a 2016 tour of British Columbia and Yukon.

  34. November 27, 2017

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Prince Harry Announces Engagement to Meghan Markle

    Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and son of Prince Charles, announced his engagement to actress Meghan Markle, best known for her role in the Toronto-shot TV series Suits.

  35. January 08, 2020

    Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Prince Harry and Meghan to “Step Back” from Royal Duties

    Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their plans to transition out of their roles as senior members of the Royal Family. “We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages,” their statement read. Buckingham Palace responded with a statement explaining that “Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage,” and that “these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”

  36. April 09, 2021

    Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Death of Prince Philip

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Queen and Prince Philip isolated at Windsor Castle. Philip died on 9 April 2021, only months before his 100th birthday. The Queen and Prince Philip were married for 73 years. They had four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

  37. February 06, 2022

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Platinum Jubilee

    The celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of Elizabeth’s reign began on 6 February. They culminated in a four-day bank holiday weekend in the UK from Thursday 2 June to Sunday 5 June. More than 1,500 beacons were lit throughout the UK and its Overseas Territories, as well as in the capitals of each Commonwealth country. At that time, Elizabeth’s reign was the third-longest by any monarch in recorded history.

  38. September 08, 2022

    Queen Elizabeth II 

    Death of Queen Elizabeth II

    Queen Elizabeth II died at age 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with the Royal Family by her side. They had gathered there earlier that day after doctors had expressed concern for her health and put her under medical supervision. Having occupied the throne for 70 years and 214 days, Elizabeth was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the second-longest reigning monarch in recorded history. She was Queen of Canada for almost half of the country’s existence. Upon her death, Charles automatically ascended to the role of king. He became the 62nd British monarch and, at age 73, the oldest ever to assume the throne.