How did Queen Elizabeth II ascend the throne?

Throughout her more than 7-decade reign as queen, Elizabeth II served as a constant figure in British public life, overseeing significant changes in the monarchy and the country, and becoming the longest-reigning monarch in British history. Considering the fact that she was third in line to the throne during her grandfather’s (George V) reign how did she go on to become queen?

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After King George VI’s death in 1952, his daughter, Elizabeth, became Queen Elizabeth II, succeeding him as the British monarch.

In the article below WHE explores how Queen Elizabeth II ascended to throne:

Early Life

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born on April 21, 1926. Initially, she was not expected to become queen, as her father, then known as the Duke of York, was the second son of King George V. His elder brother, Edward, Prince of Wales, was the heir apparent.

Elizabeth of York (the future Queen Elizabeth II) on the cover of the Time magazine, April 29, 1929.

Abdication Crisis

However, after King George V’s death in 1936, the new King Edward VIII chose to abdicate the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee.

This was a scandalous decision for the time, and it was not supported by the British government. The abdication thrust Elizabeth’s father onto the throne as King George VI, making young Elizabeth the heir presumptive.

Male-preference primogeniture was practiced until 2013, when Parliament passed the Succession to the Crown Act.

World War II

During World War II, Elizabeth undertook public duties to support the war effort, including joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) where she trained as a driver and mechanic.

Queen Elizabeth II Achievements

Queen Elizabeth II serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Auxiliary Territorial Service


In 1947, Elizabeth married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, who later became the Duke of Edinburgh. They had four children: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.

King George VI’s Deteriorating Health

In the years following the war, King George VI’s health began to decline. Elizabeth began taking on more of his duties, including overseas tours on his behalf.


On February 6, 1952, while on a tour of Kenya, Elizabeth received the news of her father’s death. At the age of 25, she immediately became Queen Elizabeth II. She returned to the United Kingdom as its new monarch.


Elizabeth II's coronation

Her official coronation took place on June 2, 1953, at Westminster Abbey in London. It was a significant event, attended by representatives and leaders from around the world. The ceremony was also noteworthy for being one of the first major public events to be broadcast on television, allowing people around the Commonwealth to witness the historic event.

Elizabeth II's coronation

The Queen, with her husband Prince Philip, waving on the balcony of the Buckingham Palace

READ MORE: Notable Accomplishments of Queen Elizabeth II

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