Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is queen regnant of 16 independent 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 and Nevis. She holds each crown separately and equally in a shared monarchy, as well as acting as Head of the Commonwealth. As a constitutional monarch, she is politically neutral and by convention her role is largely ceremonial. In the United Kingdom, she is Supreme Governor of the established Church of England.
Despite the death of Elizabeth's grandmother Queen Mary on 24 March 1953, the coronation went ahead in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, in accordance with Mary's wishes. The entire ceremony, except the anointing and communion, was televised throughout the Commonwealth, and the coverage was instrumental in boosting the medium's popularity; the number of television licences in the United Kingdom doubled to 3 million.
In 1977, Elizabeth marked the Silver Jubilee of her accession. Parties and events took place throughout the Commonwealth, many coinciding with the Queen's associated national and Commonwealth tours.
The 1980’s was a decade of family and world matters that would impact HRH Queen Elizabeth profoundly as she reached her 60th birthday. Her firstborn son and heir to the throne, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in St. Paul’s Cathedral to unparalleled fanfare.
It was a difficult decade filled with blessings and challenges alike for Canada’s beloved monarch. World events arrived on her very doorstep when Britain went to war with Argentina over control of the Falkland Islands. Unemployment in Britain topped three million and in 1984 Miners went on strike again, but this time was defeated by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. One bright spot for HRH was Diana and Charles providing her with two grandsons and an additional heir apparent to the throne -- Prince William on June 21, 1982. Prince Henry (Harry) was born September 15, 1984.
However, the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana broke down amid widely-publicised bitterness, and a divorce followed. These troubles, together with the divorces of Princess Anne and the Duke of York, were seen by some to diminish the monarchy in public esteem.
This decade the Queen grieved the bombing of PanAM flight 103 which crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland killing 270. She also celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the ‘Cold War’. HRH was on her way to becoming one of the longest reigning and beloved Monarchs since Queen Victoria, Canada’s beloved first Monarch.
In 1991, in the wake of victory in the Gulf War, she became the first British monarch to address a joint session of the United States Congress.
In 2002, Elizabeth marked her Golden Jubilee as queen. Her sister and mother died in February and March, respectively, and the media speculated whether the Jubilee would be a success or a failure.
Though Elizabeth has enjoyed good health throughout her life, in 2003 she had keyhole surgery on both knees, and in June 2005 she cancelled several engagements after contracting a bad cold. In October 2006, the Queen cancelled her appointment to officially open the new Emirates Stadium, because of a strained back muscle that had been troubling her since the summer.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2007; their marriage is the longest of any British monarch. The Queen's reign is longer than those of her four immediate predecessors combined (Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, and George VI).