As the world pays tribute to the Queen and wishes her a happy birthday, this is what you need to know about Queen Elizabeth II’s journey to the throne - including how old she was when she became queen.
When did Queen Elizabeth become the queen - and how old was she?
On 6 February 1952, King George VI died following a prolonged illness. He passed away in his sleep at the Royal Estate at Sandringham.
Princess Elizabeth was the eldest of the King’s daughters and was next in line to succeed him. She immediately acceded to the throne and became Queen Elizabeth II, taking on all the responsibilities that came with the title, at age 25.
She was in Kenya at the time and became the first Sovereign in over 200 years to accede while abroad.
Following the news of her father’s death, and her accession to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II flew back to Britain, where she was greeted by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other officials at the airport.
Prior to his death, King George VI’s poor health forced him to abandon a proposed Commonwealth tour, so Princess Elizabeth, accompanied by Prince Philip, took his place instead.
When was the Coronation?
The Coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, following her accession earlier in 1952. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at age 27.
The royal family website states that this was “a solemn ceremony” and was conducted by Dr Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Representatives of the peers, the Commons and all the great public interests in Britain, the Prime Minister and leading citizens of the other Commonwealth countries, and representatives of foreign states, all attended the ceremony.
Despite the heavy rain at the time, crowds of people also viewed the procession all along the route. Additionally, the ceremony was broadcast on radio around the world and, at the Queen’s request, on television for the first time. More than 20 million people watched the service.
The Coronation began at 11:15am and lasted for almost three hours. The service fell into six parts: the recognition, the oath, the anointing, the investiture (which includes the crowning), the enthronement and the homage.
The St Edward’s Crown, made in 1661, was placed on the head of the Queen during the Coronation service - it weighs four pounds and 12 punches, and is made of solid gold.
Queen Elizabeth II is the sixth Queen to have been crowned in Westminster Abbey in her own right, with the first being Queen Mary I who was crowned on 1 October 1553. She is the 39th Sovereign to be crowned at Westminster Abbey.
She was crowned in St Edward’s Chair, made in 1300 for Edward I and used at every Coronation since, and is permanently kept in Westminster Abbey.
Why was Prince Philip not a king?
The late Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away at age 99, was known as Prince Philip - and he never held the title of “king”.
While a woman who marries a king in Britain can be called a queen, the rules differ for men who marry female monarchs like Queen Elizabeth II.
They are not permitted to use the title of “king” as this is only given to men who inherit the throne directly.
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II married in 1947, prior to the Queen becoming the monarch in 1952.
She later awarded Philip the title of “prince”, prior to which he was the Duke of Edinburgh.