Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, the world's longest-reigning monarch, turned 92 on Saturday. Her birthday was marked with traditional gun salutes and a Commonwealth-themed, star-studded charity concert. Elizabeth II was instrumental in bringing the royals into modern times, after ascending to the throne in 1952 as Britain's empire was in sharp decline. Despite being followed closely in her public appearances, she has succeeded in keeping life behind palace doors relatively secret. The Queen has two birthdays. Besides her actual birthday on April 21, official celebrations involving 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians -- an event known as the "Trooping of the Colour" -- are held usually on the second Saturday of June.
- Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 92nd birthday on Saturday
- Elizabeth took the throne on February 6, 1952, after her father's death
- More than 20 million in Britain watched her coronation live on television
In 1955, Elizabeth's younger glamorous sister Margaret was forced to call off her proposed marriage to a dashing air force officer, Group Captain Peter Townsend. Although a royal equerry, Townsend was still deemed an unsuitable husband for the queen's sister because he was divorced and he was sent off to Brussels by Buckingham Palace. "I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend," Margaret said in a sad announcement to the nation. "Mindful that Christian marriage is indissoluble and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before others."
Elizabeth took the throne on February 6, 1952 upon the death of her father king George VI, but to allow for a period of national mourning, she was only crowned 16 months later.
Last week, Queen Elizabeth told leaders from the 53 Commonwealth nations that she wanted her eldest son Prince Charles to succeed her in the symbolic Commonwealth figurehead role. She has been the Commonwealth's symbolic figurehead since her father king George VI's death in 1952.
The Queen is a notable lover of corgi. Her beloved corgi Willow, the last in a royal line of loyal, died recently.
(With inputs from agencies)