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Memories of a monarch: Queen Elizabeth's life in photos

See images of the beloved British royal, from childhood to the throne and through the many landmark moments she experienced.
/ Source: TODAY

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and beloved head of state Queen Elizabeth II has died at the age of 96, just more than a year after the death of her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip.

While those in Britain, the Commonwealth and royal watchers around the world mourn the loss, we’re taking a closer look at her rich life in photos.

Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth
Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth as children in the 1930s. Culture Club / Getty Images

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on April 21, 1926, daughter of the then-Duke and Duchess of York. She only had one sibling, sister Princess Margaret, who was four years younger than the queen-to-be.

By the time Princess Elizabeth turned 10, her father ascended to the throne, becoming King George VI.

Image: George VI Coronation
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth with Queen Mary in between them. Then-Princess Elizabeth stands to her left and sister Princess Margaret to her right, as the royal family gathered on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after George's coronation ceremony. Fox Photos / Getty Images

Just three years after that, during a family trip in 1939, a 13-year-old Elizabeth got to know an 18-year-old Greek and Danish prince — and distant cousin — named Philip, whom she started a correspondence with during his service in the Royal Navy. Eventually, the pair fell in love.

Image: Married Couple
Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, on their wedding day. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

On Nov. 20, 1947, a 21-year-old Elizabeth married Philip in a ceremony that took place at Westminster Abbey. One year later, the couple started their family.

Image: Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth and Philip in 1951 with their children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, at Clarence House, the royal couple's London residence at the time.AP

Philip and Elizabeth welcomed their first child, son and heir Charles, in 1948, and in 1950, the princess gave birth to their only daughter, Anne.

But Elizabeth didn't remain a princess for much longer.

Queen Elizabeth II of England
A photo of Queen Elizabeth taken in 1952 to celebrate her accession. Bettmann Archive

In February 1952, King George died, ending his 15-year reign and making his then-25-year-old daughter the new British monarch.

Image: Image:
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip pose after her coronation on June 2, 1953.HO / AFP - Getty Images

Her coronation was held the following summer. It was the ceremonial beginning of her own reign, which went on to last 70 years.

Marilyn Monroe mit K?nigin Elizabeth II. von England
Elizabeth met Hollywood great Marilyn Monroe on October 29, 1956.ullstein bild via Getty Images

In 1956, the glamorous young queen met another woman the world seemed obsessed with — Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe. The occasion was the premiere of "The Battle of the River Plate" at the Empire Theatre in London.

Image: Royal platinum wedding anniversary
President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy pictured with Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace in 1961.PA Wire / PA Images

Elizabeth and Philip welcomed the couple behind America's Camelot, President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, to Buckingham Palace months after the president took office in 1961.

By March 1964, the queen, having already given birth to son Andrew four years earlier, welcomed her and Philip's youngest child, Edward. But she continued to be surrounded by new little ones regularly — of the four-legged variety.

Royalty - Queen Elizabeth II - Windsor Horse Trials
Queen Elizabeth with some of her corgis.PA Images via Getty Images

The queen is almost as well known for her love of corgis as she is for her love of crown and country. Over the course of her life, she raised more than 30 of the herding dogs — as well as several dorgis, corgi-dachshund mixes — and most of them were descended from Susan, a treasured corgi she was gifted as a teen.

Silver Bell
Elizabeth and Philip admiring a silver bell on the occasion of her Silver Jubilee on June 7, 1977. Fox Photos / Getty Images

In honor of 25 years on the throne, Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee was held in 1977. The monarch was presented with a silver bell to commemorate what was already a far longer reign than her father had before her.

Prince Charles, Princess Diana
Prince Charles and his bride Diana, Princess of Wales, with his parents as they wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their marriage.AP

Elizabeth saw her eldest son and the next in line to the throne, Charles, Prince of Wales, marry the Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981.

Queen Harry And William
Elizabeth with young Princes William and Harry.Tim Graham / Getty Images

Prince Charles and Princess Diana had two children, Princes William and Harry, who grew up close to their grandmother.

In 1997, tragedy struck the family, impacting those boys most of all, when the Princess of Wales died in a car crash in Paris.

Elizabeth and Philip view the floral tributes to Princess Diana at Buckingham Palace on Sept. 5, 1997, a week after Diana's death.
Elizabeth and Philip view the floral tributes to Princess Diana at Buckingham Palace on Sept. 5, 1997, a week after Diana's death.John Stillwell / AP

As the world mourned the woman known as the People's Princess, many criticized the queen for being slow to address the loss. It was five days after Diana's death when Philip and Elizabeth made an appearance outside Buckingham Palace to look at the tributes amassed for Diana and finally shared in the public's grief.

The Wedding of Prince William with Catherine Middleton - Buckingham Palace Balcony
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, greet well-wishers next to members of their family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace on April 29, 2011.George Pimentel / WireImage

Another royal wedding, as grand as the one Charles and Diana shared, was held on April 29, 2011, when their son William wed Kate Middleton, now Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. In a photo on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, Elizabeth can be seen alongside other family members celebrating with the bride and groom.

Image: BESTPIX  US President Barack Obama Visits The UK - Day One
Barack Obama and the queen at Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011.Lewis Whyld / Getty Images

One month after that, the queen invited President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to their first British State Banquet, at which the royal sat next to the president.

The State Opening Of Parliament
Elizabeth and Philip pictured inside her Diamond Jubilee State Coach after attending the state opening of Parliament on May 27, 2015 in London.Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images

Elizabeth beamed in this 2015 photo, as she rode alongside Philip in her horse-drawn Diamond Jubilee State Coach, which had been crafted for her years earlier. On this occasion, she was returning from her duties at the opening of parliament.

An official wedding photo of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, in Windsor Castle. Alexi Lubomirski / AP

Wedding bells rang for the royal family once again in 2018, as the queen's grandson Prince Harry said "I do" to his bride, Meghan Markle. An official wedding portrait from that day captured Elizabeth as she sat next to the happy couple, while the bride's mother, Doria Ragland, stood to their other side. They were accompanied by other royals, as well as the children who served as bridesmaids and pageboys on the big day.

Elizabeth with her great-grandchildren and two youngest grandchildren. From left to right: James, Viscount Severn; Lady Louise; Mia Tindall; Princess Charlotte on the queen's lap; Savannah Phillips; Prince George; and Isla Phillips.
Elizabeth with her great-grandchildren and two youngest grandchildren. From left to right: James, Viscount Severn; Lady Louise; Mia Tindall; Princess Charlotte on the queen's lap; Savannah Phillips; Prince George; and Isla Phillips.

Some of those children were present in this earlier photo of Elizabeth taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. In it, she's seen surrounded by some of her great-grandchildren and youngest grandchildren. On her lap sits the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, and to the right, is their son and future king, Prince George.

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh walk arm in arm at Broadlands, Hampshire.FIONA HANSON / AFP via Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrated their 73rd anniversary in November of 2020. He died less than four months later.