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Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born 21 April 1926[fn 1]) is the constitutional monarch of sixteen sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia,New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts andNevis. As Head of the Commonwealth, she is the figurehead of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations; as the British monarch, she is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Elizabeth was educatedprivately at home. Her father ascended to the throne as George VI in 1936. Elizabeth began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, in which she served in the Auxiliary TerritorialService. When her father died in 1952, Elizabeth became Head of the Commonwealth and queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa,Pakistan, and Ceylon. Her coronation service in 1953 was the first to be televised.[1]
During her 59-year reign, currently the second-longest for a British monarch, she became queen of 25 otherCommonwealth countries as they gained independence. Between 1956 and 1992, half of her realms, including South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (renamed Sri Lanka), became republics. Her Silver and Golden Jubileeswere celebrated in 1977 and 2002; planning for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 is underway.
In 1947, she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with whom she has four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew,and Edward. In 1992, which Elizabeth termed her annus horribilis ("horrible year"), Charles and Andrew separated from their wives, Anne divorced, and a severe fire destroyed part of Windsor Castle.Revelations continued on the state of Charles's marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, and they divorced in 1996. The following year, Diana died in a Paris car crash, and the media criticised the royal...
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