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A queen’s sparkling celebration

Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II

Created date

April 24th, 2012

In 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the 34th President of the United States, Arthur Miller s The Crucible opened on Broadway, and scientists Crick and Watson published their description of the double helix structure of DNA. It was also the year that a young Englishwoman named Elizabeth ascended to the throne at the age of 25. Now, 60 years later, the world is a very different place, and to say that the Queen has kept up with the times is an understatement. How many 86-year-olds do you know who have their own website, Twitter, and Facebook account? In the span of 60 years, Queen Elizabeth has superseded her given title as Queen of England to become the world s de facto Queen. And this year, the world joins the UK in celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Her Magesty Queen Elizabeth.

Early life

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was not born in a hospital, but in a private townhouse at 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, on April 21, 1926. (Just across the street from that townhouse was the atelier of Norman Hartnell, the British designer who would go on to create the gowns Elizabeth wore for her wedding and her coronation.) The first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, Elizabeth stood third in line of succession to the throne after Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), and her father, the Duke of York. When she was born, it was not expected that her father would become King or that she would become Queen. Her early schooling took place at home with her sister Margaret, but once her father succeeded the throne in 1936 and Elizabeth became the presumptive heir, her studies became more rigorous and included lessons on constitutional history and law to prepare for her future as a ruler. In 1947, then Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey. The nation was still recovering from the ravages of World War II, so their wedding was a relatively simple affair. Just like any other bride-to-be in England at the time, Princess Elizabeth had to collect clothing coupons for her dress. Elizabeth and Philip started their family with the birth of Charles in 1948, followed two years later by Princess Anne. (Two other children, Andrew and Edward, were born after Elizabeth ascended the throne.) By all accounts, they lived a relatively normal life until February 6, 1952.

A princess becomes a queen

While traveling through a remote part of Kenya, Elizabeth received news of her father s death and her own accession to the throne. The young Princess flew back to Britain as Queen and was greeted by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other officials at the airport. The coronation followed 16 months later on June 2, 1953. At Elizabeth s suggestion, the event was broadcast around the globe. At the time, television was still in its infancy and anticipation of the broadcast is credited with an international surge in television sales. Twenty million people in Great Britain watched Elizabeth crowned. Across the pond, 100 million Americans watched the recorded event.

60 years later...

One way to look at Elizabeth s impact is through numbers. Over the past 60 years, the Queen has: