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In PHOTOS: Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on throne

Last updated on: February 6, 2012 17:42 IST

Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on throne

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On Monday, Queen Elizabeth II marks the 60th year of her reign.

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary ascended to the British throne on February 6, 1952, upon her father, George VI's sudden death. She received the news of her succession at the remote Sagana Lodge in Kiganjo, Kenya, where she and Prince Philip were holidaying.

She was subsequently declared queen in each of her 32 Commonwealth realms, including Kenya. Today sixty years later she is the constitutional monarch of just 16 realms (no longer Kenya either) and the last one to slip away was Mauritius in 1992.

Elizabeth was crowned queen nearly 16 months later at Westminister Abbey on June 2, 1953 in the first televised coronation ceremony (it set back the British exchequer back by four million dollars). On being crowned queen she and her prince consort moved into Buckingham Palace where they have been living for the last 60 years.

Elizabeth ordinarily does not celebrate her succession to the British throne (Accession Day) but on the first day of the sixtieth year of her reign she has two low-key visits planned to eastern England, that will kick off five months of diamond jubilee celebrations.

She plans to comprehensively tour England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales during her jubilee year. Other members of the royal family will journey overseas, representing Queen Elizabeth, and will visit every realm, as well as head to the Commonwealth countries, crown dependencies and to all of Britain's overseas territories.

For instance Charles and wife, Camilla, will head to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Papua New Guinea as well as the Channel Island and the Isle of Man. While Will and Kate will do Malaysia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu; Prince Harry Belize, Jamaica, The Bahamas. Prince Andrew will come to India. 

Most of the celebratory events -- a Thames river pageant with a flotilla of 1,000 boats; a service at St Paul Cathedral, London; jubilee beacons around the world; a concert at Buckingham Palace, among other events -- are planned for June sensible given the rough weather Europe is having at the moment.

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Image: Queen Elizabeth II with (left to right) Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne the Princess Royal, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother watching an RAF fly-past from the balcony of Buckingham Palace as part of the Queen's Coronation ceremony on June 2, 1953
Photographs: Getty Images

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Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on throne

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Queen Elizabeth II thanked all those who had supported her through her 60-year reign and reaffirming her dedication to serving the British people. "I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Phillip over these years," she wrote in a message to the nation.

Sixty years ago, when the grief-stricken but famously composed Elizabeth succeeded her father as Britain's monarch she landed in London from Kenya and was met by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other key officials. Following her coronation she has also toured Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England as well as every part of London.


Image: Queen Elizabeth II with Indian President Rajendra Prasad and Prince Philip at a reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan on January 27, 1961, after the Republic Day Parade during the royals' visit to India
Photographs: Getty Images

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Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on throne

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"In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope that we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighborliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign," she said.

Much has changed in Elizabeth's world since she became the queen. Television and now the Internet have become part of every day life -- the queen has her own web site. Man conquered the moon. The Berlin Wall collapsed. And subsequently the Soviet Union.    

Queen Elizabeth has travelled to every one of the 54 Commonwealth countries except Rwanda and Cameroon and Canada has received 24 visits (she never travels on a scheduled aircraft although Prince Charles does). She has visited 116 countries in all. And is the most travelled head of state.



Image: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of their 25th silver wedding anniversary celebrations held at Buckingham Palace, 20th November 1972
Photographs: Getty Images

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February 6 the queen will spend the day carrying out formal duties in Norfolk, eastern England, visiting a town hall (Norfolk is incidentally one of the first Anglo-Saxon kingdoms).



Image: 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, 29th July 1981
Photographs: Getty Images

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Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on throne

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There will be a 41 gun salute from Hyde Park, London, and a 62 gun salute from the Tower of London, while two specially commissioned photographs of the queen and Prince Philip will be published on a website -- www.thediamondjubilee.org -- launched to mark the jubilee.


Image: Queen Elizabeth II meets members of the public waiting in a queue to sign the book of condolence for Diana, Princess of Wales, outside St James's Palace, September 5 on 1997
Photographs: Reuters

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Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on throne

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British Prime Minister David Cameron said the queen had guided the country "with experience, dignity and quiet authority" -- and he dismissed suggestions she was "simply a glittering ornament".

"You sometimes hear people talk as if the monarchy was simply a glittering ornament, a decoration on our national life," British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement. "That misunderstands our constitution and it underestimates our queen. All my life, and for the lives of most people in this country, she has always been there for us."



Image: Three generations of Britain's Royal family, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh (right top ), their oldest son, the Prince of Wales (left top), and his oldest son, Prince William, pose for a photograph at Clarence House in London
Photographs: Reuters

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Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on throne

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The 85-year-old monarch was only 25 when she ascended the throne. On Monday, Queen Elizabeth became the second monarch to reach the 60 years milestone after Queen Victoria, who reigned for more than 63 years.


Image: Britain's Queen Elizabeth poses with Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha before a lunch to celebrate Prince Philip's 90th birthday at number 10 Downing Street in London
Photographs: Reuters

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Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on throne

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During her reign there have been 12 British prime ministers, 12 United States presidents and six popes.


Image: US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcome Britain's Queen Elizabeth to the Winfield House for dinner in London, May 25, 2011
Photographs: Reuters

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Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on throne

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The royal family has faced tumultuous times during Elizabeth's reign, especially after the death in 1997 of Princess Diana, the hugely popular ex-wife of her son and heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles. The queen was criticised by the tabloid press for appearing unmoved and out of touch with public feeling over the death of Diana. To remedy the situation Elizabeth side-stepped royal protocol and bowed to Diana's coffin as it passed Buckingham Palace during the funeral.


Image: Queen Elizabeth II and President Pratibha Patil smile during a ceremonial baton handover to launch the Commonwealth Games
Photographs: Getty Images

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Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on throne

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The royals regained their popularity after the wedding of her grandson Prince William, second-in-line to the throne, to the charming Catherine Middleton last year.

Today Elizabeth's popularity ratings are over 80 percent and are more often than not higher than the approval ratings of Britain's PMs. She has been perceived to be a hard-working queen in touch with the people of her kingdom.She is also considered a fairly tech savvy royal -- she has her own e-mail account, uses a cell phone, often plays on the Nintendo Wii Kate gifted 'Wills' (till she was presented a gold-plated one) and presumably makes use of the iPod (loaded with 40 classic melodies) presented to her by US president, Barack Obama on his first presidential visit to Britain in 2009.

But the queen has never been interviewed. The closest she came to an interview was when she consented to a portrait sitting with Australian artist Rolf Harris on film shown on BBC and ABC television networks. Harris attempted to engage her in conversation but his questions were met with frostily monosyllabic royal answers.  


Image: Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge walk onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace after attending the Trooping the Colour ceremony in central London June 11, 2011. Trooping the Colour is a ceremony to honour the sovereign's official birthday
Photographs: Reuters

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Queen Elizabeth may have had her ups and downs, but royal commentator Robert Jobson puts it in perspective, "In many ways, whenever you mention the words 'the queen', everyone immediately thinks of Queen Elizabeth."

"She's effectively, if you like, the queen of the world. She's not only the queen of Great Britain, she's the queen of many other Commonwealth realms, as well as being the head of the Commonwealth of 53 nations. "So whenever you say the word 'The Queen', it is this international figure."


Image: Queen Elizabeth attends a tree planting ceremony in the Diamond Jubilee Wood on her Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, eastern England February 3
Photographs: Reuters

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