On February 6, 1952, a young Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were enjoying the overseas leg of their honeymoon in Kenya, spending two days in the country’s oldest safari lodge, the Treetops Hotel.
It was a hideaway built in a giant fig tree. She was enjoying life as a young married royal with her handsome prince, and it was here where she filmed charging rhinos and waterbuck with her beloved cine-camera.
And it was also here where she succeeded her father King George VI, who had died in his sleep that evening, marking the beginning of her 70-year reign as Queen Elizabeth ll.
The Times reported big-game hunter and the Queen’s armed escort at the time, Jim Corbett, wrote at the time in the hotel’s logbook: “For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into the tree as a princess and climbed down as a queen”.
Her CV now reads like this: The Queen, now 95, has reigned for 70 years – or 25,568 days – and is the first British monarch in history to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee.
She is already Britain’s longest-reigning monarch (overtaking her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria in September 2015), and the longest still-serving sovereign in the world (King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand died after ruling for 70 years).
The Queen’s record reign means she has spent 73 per cent of her life so far on the throne.
“Inevitably a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception,” she remarked at the time.
The Queen also holds the record for the most currencies featuring the same individual, and she is the wealthiest queen, with a fortune estimated at £365 million ($700 million).
On her Platinum Jubilee, her eldest son Prince Charles paid tribute to the Queen for her “remarkable achievement” of 70 years on the throne.
“The Queen’s devotion to the welfare of all her people inspires still greater admiration with each passing year,” the Prince of Wales said on Monday.
We take a look back at the pivotal moments in her reign, from her Coronation in 1953, to becoming a young Queen, wife, mother and public servant of the people of Britain and all Commonwealth countries.
A young Princess Elizabeth’s baptism of fire – the British Royal Family appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony and greet the crowd after the coronation of her father George VI in London on May 12, 1937. Photo: Getty
The future Queen Elizabeth II on her wedding day in 1947. Photo: Getty
Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on November 24, 1947, during their British honeymoon at Broadlands, Romsey in Hampshire. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth II steps from her plane on arrival at London Airport on February 7, 1952, after being recalled from Kenya following the death of her father King George VI. Among those waiting for her are Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Photo: Getty
After being gifted a film cine camera by her father George VI before WWII, Queen Elizabeth films the arrival of the escort ship HMNZS Black Prince while the couple tours Fiji in 1953. Photo: Getty
Crowds lined Pall Mall as HRH Queen Elizabeth II and her pageant pass on the way to her coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on the day of the coronation at Buckingham Palace on June 2, 1953. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrive at Parliament House in Hobart, Tasmania, during their Commonwealth Tour of Australia in 1954. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, wave as they leave Liverpool after attending an ice show in 1961. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and their children Anne, Edward and Charles at Windsor on the Queen’s 39th birthday in April 1965. Photo: Getty
At the May 14, 1965 dedication of the John F Kennedy Memorial, Jacqueline Kennedy sits beside Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit Aberfan in Wales in 1966 to comfort the families of the 144 people who died when a coal tip collapsed on the local school. Photo: Getty
Richard Cawston’s BBC documentary Royal Family in 1969 followed the Royal Family over a period of a year. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during their visit to Australia in April 1970. Photo: Getty
At home with the family at Buckingham Palace in 1972. Photo: Getty
The Queen enjoys a day at the races with the Emir of Bahrain in March 1979. Photo: Getty
President Ronald Reagan and Queen Elizabeth at a gala dinner at Windsor Castle in 1982. Photo: Getty
The late Princess Diana with her mother-in-law in 1987 watching the polo. Photo: Getty
Happier days in 1990 with the Duchess Of York holding Princess Eugenie beside Prince Andrew and the Queen. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth II makes her ‘Annus Horribilus’ speech at Guildhall on her 40th anniversary in 1992. Photo: Getty
The Queen and Prince Philip emerge to inspect the late Princess Diana’s floral tribute on September 6 after her death on August 31, 1997.
The Queen gets a warm welcome from thousands of well-wishers, as she tours the Golden Jubilee picnic in Gunnersbury Park in south-west London in 2002. Photo: Getty
When Prince Harry used to smile more! On April 12, 2006 at Sandhurst Military Academy speaking with his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II during the Sovereign’s Parade. Photo: Getty
The Prince of Wales and his new bride Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, on April 11, 2005, with their families in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle after their wedding. Photo: Getty
Aboriginal dancers perform for the Queen during her visit to Clontarf Aboriginal college on October 27, 2011 in Perth during a 10-day visit. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrive for a service marking the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation at Westminster Abbey on June 4, 2013. Photo: Getty
The Queen at Epsom in 2012, celebrating her Diamond Jubilee – the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Photo: Getty
With Meghan and Harry watching a flypast to mark the centenary of the 100th birthday of the Royal Air Force from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on July 10, 2018. Photo: Getty
Prince George in 2019 mixes up the Christmas pudding, watched on by his proud dad, grandfather and great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Buckingham Palace
Former US president Donald Trump and wife Melania at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace on June 3, 2019. Photo: Getty
At Derby Day in 2019 at Epsom Racecourse in England. Photo: Getty
Ladies Day on day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremony at Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior on November 4, 2020. Photo: Getty
In April last year, Buckingham Palace shared this photo of the couple at one of their ‘happy places’. Photo: AAP
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, watching the games at the annual Braemar Highland Gathering in 2008. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth II sits alone during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth in 2020 at the beginning of the global pandemic, reassuring the world ‘better days will return’.
Queen Elizabeth II rides Balmoral Fern, a 14-year-old Fell Pony, in Windsor Home Park while isolating at Windsor Castle during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Getty
The queen confers the honour of knighthood on Captain Sir Thomas Moore before presenting him with the insignia of Knight Bachelor during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle on July 17, 2020. Photo: Getty
Driving her Range Rover as she attends the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Home Park, Windsor Castle on July 2, 2021. Photo: Getty
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles plant a tree to mark the start of the official planting season for the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) in October. Photo: Getty
The queen cuts a cake to celebrate the start of the Platinum Jubilee. Photo: Getty
The Queen takes a quiet moment on February 4 at the end of a long day to view her commemorative platinum jubilee messages and paintings, with her corgi named Candy. Photo: Getty