Throughout her time on the throne, the queen has experienced wonderful highs — including the birth of her children — to terrifying lows — like an assassination attempt.
Here are some of Queen Elizabeth’s biggest moments.
Marrying Philip despite family orders, 1947
Queen Elizabeth II, as Princess Elizabeth, and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, styled Prince Philip in 1947, on their wedding day. She became queen on her father King George VI’s death in 1952.
(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Against her family’s wishes, Elizabeth became engaged to Prince Philip at the mere age of 21.
The engagement was not well received by the royal family given Philip’s poor financial standing and the fact that he was not born in the United Kingdom.
Philip, who was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, was born in Mon Repos — a villa on the island of Corfu, Greece. Given his status as an outsider, the royal family was not kind to him initially.
Historian Piers Brandon noted that “They thought Philip was not a gentleman. They thought he was rude, un-mannerly and arrogant. … They suspected he might be unfaithful to her.”
“They didn’t like Philip and they were beastly to him,” royal historian Christopher Wilson further noted.
Most notably, Elizabeth kept her last name of Windsor, bucking the custom that a wife must take her husband’s surname upon marriage. The two wed on Nov. 20, 1947.
Queen Elizabeth becomes a mom, 1948
Queen Elizabeth pictured with her first son, Prince Charles, her grandmother Queen Mary and father King George VI at Buckingham Palace on the day of his Christening.
(Pool Photo via AP, File)
On Nov. 14, 1948, almost a year after her marriage Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Charles, Prince of Wales.
Better known as Prince Charles, he is the current heir apparent to the throne and is also the longest-serving Prince of Wales — serving since 1958.
Ascending the throne, 1952
The newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II waves to the crowd from the balcony at Buckingham Palace on June 2, 1953. Her children Prince Charles and Princess Anne stand with her.
(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Following a period of declining health, Elizabeth’s father, King George VI died from various health complications — giving way to Elizabeth’s immediate accession to the throne.
At the time of her father’s death, Elizabeth and Philip were on a tour of Kenya. When word was received of King George’s death, Elizabeth and Philip quickly returned home to assume their duties.
Queen Elizabeth’s coronation took place on June 2, 1953 — over a year after her father’s death, following tradition of allowing appropriate time to pass before ascending the throne.
Attempted assassination, 1981
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip wave to the crowd during their 1981 tour of New Zealand. It was on this tour where Queen Elizabeth narrowly avoided an attempt on her life.
In 1981, 17-year-old Marcus Sarjeant fired six shots toward the queen’s direction amid a royal tour of New Zealand. The queen’s guards and police were quickly able to subdue the shooter.
Elizabeth was riding her treasured horse, Burmese, into the Horse Guards Parade when the shooting took place.
What was remarkable was Elizabeth’s handling of the situation. Though the queen was initially startled, she quickly regained composure and calmed Burmese down despite the attempt on her life.
Tribute to Diana, 1997
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh pictured at the public funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.
(John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images)
Following the death of Princess Diana, many felt that the royal family reacted coldly before Elizabeth stepped up and changed the public’s perception.
In a live televised broadcast, Elizabeth bowed to Diana’s coffin and paid tribute to the fallen Princess.
“In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness,” Elizabeth said on Diana. “I admired and respected her for her energy and commitment to others, and especially for her devotion to her two boys.”
Sapphire Jubilee, 2017
A special Sapphire Jubilee coin made for the Queen’s special occasion.
Queen Elizabeth’s sapphire jubilee took place in February 2017 in celebration of her 65th year on the throne.
In honor of her big milestone, the world’s longest-reigning monarch celebrated in relative privacy — opting to fall back at Sandringham House for a quiet reflection on the anniversary of her father’s death.
Elizabeth is the first British royal to have a sapphire jubilee.