21 April 1926
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor is born at 2.40am at 17 Bruton Street, London, her maternal grandparents’ house. It was home to her parents, Elizabeth (née Bowes-Lyon), and Albert, Duke of York, the second son of King George V and Queen Mary. She was third in line to the throne behind her father and Edward, Prince of Wales.
21 August 1930
Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret Rose, is born.
20 January 1936
George V dies. Edward VIII becomes king.
10 December 1936
Edward VIII abdicates so that he can marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
11 December 1936
Bertie, the Duke of York, is formally proclaimed King George VI. Princess Elizabeth is now heiress presumptive.
Elizabeth becomes a Girl Guide at the age of 11.
12 May 1937
Coronation of George VI at Westminster Abbey.
21 April 1939
Elizabeth celebrates her 13th birthday, and begins a course of study at home under the vice-provost of Eton College.
22 July 1939
Princess Elizabeth meets Cadet Capt Philip of Greece at the Royal Dartmouth naval college.
3 September 1939
Britain declares war on Germany.
7 September 1940
The blitz on London begins. While the King and Queen stay in the city, Elizabeth and Margaret are evacuated to Windsor.
13 October 1940
Elizabeth makes her first broadcast to the nation.
21 April 1942
On her 16th birthday, Elizabeth carries out her first public engagement when she inspects the Grenadier Guards, of which she had been appointed colonel-in-chief.
21 April 1944
Elizabeth receives her first corgi, Susan, as an 18th birthday present.
4 March 1945
Elizabeth joins the Auxiliary Territorial Service, learning how to drive and maintain vehicles.
8 May 1945
Elizabeth makes her first overseas visit, to South Africa, and gives a speech dedicating herself to the Commonwealth.
10 July 1947
Buckingham Palace announces the engagement of Princess Elizabeth to Lt Philip Mountbatten, her third cousin.
20 November 1947
The couple marry at Westminster Abbey. He is thenceforth known as the Duke of Edinburgh.
14 November 1948
Prince Charles is born.
15 August 1950
Princess Anne, now the Princess Royal, is born.
31 January 1950
Elizabeth and Philip leave for a tour of east Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
6 February 1952
George VI dies and Elizabeth II succeeds to the throne. She is in Kenya when her father dies – the first British monarch since George I to be out of the country at the time of succession.
15 February 1952
Funeral of George VI takes place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
7 April 1952
Proclamation issued declaring the family’s dynastic surname will remain Windsor.
2 June 1953
Coronation of Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in the first televised coronation service.
24 November 1953
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh embark on a tour of the Commonwealth.
15 May 1954
The royal couple return to England after six months abroad.
31 October 1955
Princess Margaret releases a statement confirming she will not marry Gp Capt Peter Townsend. Her relationship with him had been controversial because he was divorced, and her request to marry him – with its echoes of the abdication crisis – had been opposed by large sections of the establishment.
Britain and France invade Egypt in a botched attempt to seize control of the Suez canal. Lord Mountbatten later claimed the Queen disapproved of the venture.
21 October 1957
The Queen visits New York and addresses the UN general assembly.
19 February 1960
Prince Andrew, now the Duke of York, is born.
6 May 1960
Princess Margaret marries the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones.
10 March 1964
Prince Edward, now the Earl of Wessex, is born.
The Queen visits West Germany, the first British monarch to do so since the first world war.
20 September 1967
The Queen launches the Cunard cruise liner the Queen Elizabeth II (popularly known as the QE2).
21 June 1969
First broadcast of Royal Family, a documentary with unprecedented access to the family’s daily life.
1 July 1969
Prince Charles is invested Prince of Wales. Lord Snowdon designs a new coronet for the occasion as the Duke of Windsor took the previous one with him to Paris.
First walkabout during a state visit of Australia and New Zealand.
20 October 1973
The Queen opens Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House in Australia.
14 November 1973
Princess Anne marries Capt Mark Phillips.
The Queen’s tour of Australia and Polynesia is interrupted after the prime minister Edward Heath calls a snap general election. She flies back to Britain.
The Queen refuses to intervene in an Australian constitutional crisis when the prime minister Gough Whitlam is dismissed by the governor general Sir John Kerr.
7 June 1977
Queen’s silver jubilee. More than a million people line the streets of London, and a chain of beacons is lit across the country.
27 August 1979
Lord Mountbatten, Prince Philip’s uncle, is killed by an IRA bomb off the coast of Sligo in the west of Ireland.
Sir Anthony Blunt, the former surveyor of the Queen’s pictures, is exposed as a communist spy.
24 February 1981
Prince Charles announces his engagement to Lady Diana Spencer.
29 July 1981
Charles and Diana marry in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
13 June 1981
Shots are fired at the Queen as she attends Trooping the Colour. Marcus Serjeant, a 17-year-old air cadet from Folkestone, Kent, pleads guilty under the 1842 Treason Act and is jailed for five years. The shots were blanks.
21 June 1982
Diana gives birth to Prince William.
9 July 1982
Michael Fagan breaks into the Queen’s bedroom during the early hours, evading alarms, guards and police. He sits on the edge of her bed, talking for 10 minutes, before being led away by footman Paul Whybrew, given a whisky and arrested.
15 September 1984
Diana gives birth to Prince Harry.
23 July 1986
Andrew marries publishing executive Sarah Ferguson, known as Fergie.
7 June 1992
The first instalment of the serialisation of Andrew Morton’s book, Diana: Her True Story, appears in the Sunday Times, revealing that Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles continued to have an affair during his marriage to Diana, that Diana tried to kill herself and had bulimia. It later emerges that much of the information had been supplied by Diana herself.
20 November 1992
Windsor Castle is partly destroyed by fire.
24 November 1992
The Queen gives a speech at Guildhall to mark the 40th anniversary of her accession. In it, she refers to recent events as part of an “annus horribilis”.
9 December 1992
The prime minister John Major announces in the House of Commons that Charles and Diana are to separate.
Buckingham Palace is opened to the general public for the first time to help fund the restoration of Windsor Castle.
6 May 1994
The Queen and the French president François Mitterrand open the Channel Tunnel.
28 August 1996
Charles and Diana’s marriage is dissolved
31 August 1997
Diana dies in a car crash in Paris. The Queen stays in seclusion for several days, and is heavily criticised in the press for her silence. Then, on the eve of Diana’s funeral, she does a walkabout to meet mourners outside Buckingham Palace and gives a televised address, speaking “as your Queen and as a grandmother” and paying tribute to Diana. “She was an exceptional and gifted human being,” she said. “In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.”
11 December 1997
Her Majesty’s yacht Britannia is decommissioned; the government decides against funding a replacement.
24 November 1998
The Queen’s speech at the opening of parliament announces plans to abolish the traditional rights of 700 hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords.
26 May 1999
The Queen opens the national assembly in Wales.
1 July 1999
The Queen opens the Scottish parliament.
9 Feb 2002
Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret, dies.
30 March 2002
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, dies.
30 April 2002
Elizabeth launches her golden jubilee celebrations with a speech to both houses of parliament.
9 April 2005
Prince Charles marries Camilla Parker Bowles in a civil ceremony at Windsor’s Guildhall. The Queen attends the service of blessing held for the couple at St George’s Chapel.
21 April 2006
The Queen celebrates her 80th birthday.
19 Nov 2007
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh mark their 60th wedding anniversary.
22 December 2007
Elizabeth II surpasses Victoria to become the UK’s oldest reigning monarch.
14 Oct 2010
The Queen cancels a planned Christmas party at Buckingham Palace after deciding it would be inappropriate to celebrate as Britons feel the effects of the economic crisis.
29 April 2011
Prince William, second in line to the throne, marries Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey.
17-20 May 2011
The Queen visits Ireland, becoming the first British monarch to do so since its independence in 1921. She expresses sympathy to those who suffered during hundreds of years of conflict between the two neighbours.
6 Feb 2012
The 60th anniversary of the death of George VI and of Elizabeth’s accession to the throne.
2-5 June 2012
Events take place throughout the country to celebrate Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee, including a pageant of 670 boats sailing along the Thames in London.
27 July 2012
The Queen opens the London Olympics. In her first acting role, a film shows her leaving Buckingham Palace with James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, and appearing to parachute into the stadium in Stratford, east London.
25 April 2013
The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 receives royal assent, so that the eldest child inherits the throne regardless of gender. The act also ends the disqualification from the line of succession of a person married to a Catholic.
4 June 2013
The Queen joins 2,000 guests for a service at Westminster Abbey to mark 60 years since her coronation.
22 July 2013
The Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to a son at 4.24pm. Prince George is third in line to the throne.
2 May 2015
The Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to a daughter at 8.34am. Princess Charlotte is fourth in line to the throne.
9 September 2015
The Queen surpasses her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, and becomes Britain’s longest ever reigning monarch.
21 April 2016
The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday.
2 August 2017
Prince Philip, aged 96, retires from his official royal duties as the Queen’s consort, having completed 22,219 solo engagements and 5,493 speeches since 1952.
6 February 2017
The Queen becomes the first British monarch to commemorate a sapphire jubilee.
20 November 2017
The Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary after 70 years of marriage. She is the first British monarch to do so.
23 April 2018
The Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to a second son at 11.01am. Prince Louis is fifth in line to the throne.
19 May 2018
Prince Harry, sixth in line to the throne, marries Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
6 May 2019
The Duchess of Sussex gives birth to a son at 5.26am. Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is seventh in line to the throne.
20 November 2019
The Queen in effect suspends Prince Andrew from duties by giving him permission to “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future” after intense public reaction to a BBC Newsnight interview about his friendship with the convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
8 January 2020
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announce they will step back from their roles in public life as senior members of the royal family, and will divide their time between the UK and North America. The couple confirm they will become financially independent and cease to represent the Queen. They retain their HRH stylings but are not permitted to use them.
19 March 2020
The Queen and Prince Philip move to Windsor Castle and sequester there as a precaution as the coronavirus hits the UK. Public engagements are cancelled and Windsor Castle follows a strict sanitary protocol nicknamed HMS Bubble.
5 April 2020
The Queen gives a rare televised address to the nation, the fifth in her 68-year reign, as an unprecedented lockdown is enforced. The monarch thanks her subjects for following government rules to stay at home, praises key workers, and asks people to “take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return”. She adds: “We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.” The broadcast is watched by an estimated 24 million viewers.
7 March 2021
In a hotly anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Duchess of Sussex claims members of the royal family had openly expressed concerns about how dark her son Archie’s skin would be and says they had tried to deny him a royal title. Both Meghan and Prince Harry make a point of praising the Queen and instead direct their criticism at the royal household. Two days later, the Queen issues a statement saying “the issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning” and that “some recollections may vary”.
9 April 2021
Prince Philip dies “peacefully” at the age of 99 at Windsor Castle, two months before his 100th birthday. The Queen, who was at his bedside, describes his death as leaving “a huge void” in her life. Philip is the longest-serving royal consort in history.
17 April 2021
Funeral of Prince Philip at Windsor. He had indicated wishes for a smaller funeral, though amendments were still made to bring his service in line with Covid regulations, including quarantine for members of his family travelling from abroad.
4 June 2021
The Duchess of Sussex gives birth to a daughter. Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor is eighth in line to the throne.
20 October 2021
The Queen reluctantly cancels a planned two-day visit to Northern Ireland after advice from her doctors that she should rest.
20 October 2021
The Queen spends a night at King Edward VII’s hospital after being admitted for “preliminary investigations” having cancelled a two-day trip to Northern Ireland on the advice of doctors that she should rest for a few days. A palace source said a “cautious approach” had been taken by the medical team aiding the monarch and the overnight stay was for practical reasons, adding that she returned to Windsor and was undertaking “light duties” the next day. It was her first overnight stay in hospital since 2013, when she was treated for gastroenteritis.
13 Jan 2022
The Queen further distances the monarchy from the Duke of York by stripping him of his military affiliations and royal patronages. The palace also says he will not use the style His Royal Highness in any official capacity. The move means Prince Andrew is completely removed from royal life.
15 February 2022
Prince Andrew settles the sexual assault case filed against him by Virginia Giuffre for an undisclosed sum, avoiding having to give evidence in a trial and protecting the royal family from further reputational damage.
2-5 June 2022
The Queen celebrates her platinum jubilee after a record 70 years on the throne. She crowns the historic celebrations with a last-minute appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, bringing to a close four days of festivities over a bumper bank holiday weekend. In a written message, she says she is “humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate”.
6 September 2022
In a break from tradition as a result of her ongoing mobility issues, the Queen appoints the 15th prime minister of her reign, Liz Truss, at Balmoral Castle rather than Buckingham Palace. The outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson, also travels to Scotland to offer his resignation to the Queen. The following day she postpones a privy council meeting, which she was due to attend virtually, under doctors’ advice to rest.
This article was amended on 14 September 2022 because an earlier version incorrectly referred to Mitterrand as the prime minister of France. He was the president.