The Queen at 91: The most important photo from every single year of her remarkable life

queen elizabeth prince philip

REUTERS/Fiona Hanson/Pool

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh walk at Broadlands in Romsey, southern England.

On Friday, Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her 91st birthday.

In her 91 years, the record-breaking monarch has pretty much seen it all — she has undertaken more than 260 official overseas visits and has lived through 20 British Prime Ministers and 15 US presidents.

This year’s celebrations are expected to be a low-key affair including the traditional gun salute at Tower Bridge and Hyde Park. 

Last year’s celebrations were a much more elaborate, with 1,000 beacons being lit and street parties being held across the country to mark her 90th. 

In celebration of her 91st birthday, we’ve found a photo from every single year of her remarkable life. 

1926: The Queen was born at 2:40 a.m. on April 21, 1926, at 17 Bruton Street in London. This photo shows the newly-born Princess Elizabeth with her father and mother, the Duke and Duchess of York — later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

1927: She was the couple’s first child and was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in Buckingham Palace’s private chapel. She was named Elizabeth after her mother, Mary after her grandmother Queen Mary, and Alexandra after her great-grandmother Queen Alexandra.

1928: No one ever thought Elizabeth would become queen. This only became apparent once her father’s elder brother Edward abdicated, putting her father on the throne, and making her first-in-line.

1929: In this photo, a curious Princess Elizabeth watches on as a Highland Regiment drummer performs in the grounds of Balmoral Castle.

1930: The Queen was home-schooled by her father and the Vice-Provost of Eton, Henry Marten. She also learned French after spending time with French and Belgian governesses and regularly speaks the language when delivering speeches abroad.

1931: She has been a regular attendee of The Royal Tournament at London’s Olympia, the world’s largest military tattoo and pageant. This was one of her earliest visits.

1932: Here, the young princess walks bareheaded through the rain on her arrival home.

1933: This adorable photo shows a 6-year-old Elizabeth playing on a tricycle in the park.

1934: The royals have always been keen equestrians. This photo shows the Duchess of York arriving at Olympia’s International Horse Show with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

1935: Even at the young age of nine, the future queen had perfected her royal wave. This photo was taken after the family had attended the Jubilee service at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

1936: In this picture, a young Elizabeth takes her pet dog for a walk in Hyde Park, London. She spent much of her childhood in 145 Piccadilly, a townhouse located next to The Ritz and bordering the city’s famous Green Park.

1937: The Queen Mother is shown here with her husband, King George VI, and their two daughters, Princess Elizabeth, centre, and Princess Margaret, in 1937. This is also the year Princess Elizabeth signed up as a Girl Guide — when she was 11 years old.

1938: Elizabeth and her sister were animal lovers from a young age. The princesses can be seen here watching the Pony Show in London from the royal box. Since then, Queen Elizabeth has attended a huge number of races and pageants.

1939: Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, both keen swimmers, went to watch a swimming display given before the royal visitors at Dartmouth Naval College, on July 22, 1939.

1940: A year after the beginning of the Second World War, a 14-year-old Elizabeth sent out her first ever radio broadcast. She addressed the children of the Commonwealth, most of whom had been evacuated and were away from their families. She told them to remember that when peace comes, “it will be for us children of today to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place.”

1941: Princess Elizabeth discusses the pantomime with her mother, Queen Elizabeth of England, while her sister, Princess Margaret, looks on. The two princesses took the leading roles in the show and also produced the play for the benefit of the Royal Household Concert Wool Fund.

1942: A 16-year-old Elizabeth often met with troops and spoke to them. She was appointed colonel-in-chief of the Grenadier Guards by her father in 1942 and made her first public appearance inspecting the troops that year.

1943: Throughout the war, Princess Elizabeth helped by knitting garments for the poor, contributing funds to purchase cigarettes for the armed forces and attending dances and programs for evacuated children.

1944: Although the young royals were moved to Windsor castle for their safety during the war, Princess Elizabeth regularly greeted the troops before they began bombing raids. She christened the plane in this photo the “Rose of York.”

1945: Winston Churchill joined the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace minutes after the official announcement of Germany’s unconditional surrender in WWII. Thousands of people gathered outside the royal residence to celebrate the end of the conflict.

1946: Prince Philip of Greece acted as an usher, assisting Princess Elizabeth with her coast as they arrive at Romsey Abbey, for the wedding of Patricia Mountbatten. A year later, they themselves would walk down the aisle.

1947: The following year, Philip and Elizabeth married at Westminster Abbey in London in front of 2,000 guests. She is the first British monarch to have celebrated a diamond wedding anniversary. This family photo was taken at Buckingham Palace following the ceremony.

1948: Following the christening of Prince Charles in December 1948, this official photo was taken of the young royal, along with his mother, his grandfather King George VI, and his great-grandmother Queen Mary.

1949: An eight-month-old Prince Charles is cradled by his mother on a warm July day at Windlesham Moor, their summer residence, in Ascot, England.

1950: This is the first photo of Princess Elizabeth with her second child, Princess Anne, who was born on August 15.

1951: This summer picture shows the soon-to-be queen, husband Prince Philip, and their children Charles and Anne on the lawn at Clarence House, London.

1952: In 1952, the Queen’s father, George IV, died. She immediately became queen and began the longest reign of any monarch in British history. In this photo, a veiled Elizabeth accompanies her father’s coffin to his final resting place in Windsor.

1953: On June 2, 1953, Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey, making her the 39th sovereign to be crowned in the iconic church. Although she officially became queen in 1952 after the passing of her father, King George, her coronation wasn’t until a year later. An estimated 27 million people in Britain watched the ceremony on TV.

1954: Since coming to the throne, she has held regular audience with 12 prime ministers. In this photo, the Queen and Winston Churchill wait at Waterloo Station in London for the Queen Mother to arrive back from a month in the US.

1955: The queen plays a key role in maintaining diplomatic relationships with other countries. Here, she arrives by car at the Portuguese Embassy in London’s Belgrave Square to attend a dinner party thrown in their honour by the visiting Portuguese president and Madame Craveiro Lopes.

1956: Travelling and representing Britain overseas is a key part of her job. She and her husband, Prince Philip, visited the Lagos City boundary in Nigeria on their way to the city from Ikeja Airport in 1956. Here, she’s sat next to Chief Oba Adeniji-Adila II, whose family has ruled in Lagos for 260 years.

1957: In this photo, the Queen and her sister, Princess Margaret, enjoy a day out at the horse shows in Badminton, Gloucestershire. The queen is holding an old-fashioned movie camera as she takes pictures of the cross-country competition.

1958: Queen Elizabeth II has met everyone who’s anyone — from politicians to movie stars. In 1958, she met legendary actress and early Playboy Playmate Jayne Mansfield at London’s Odeon Theatre during the annual royal film festival.

1959: Since taking to the throne, the Queen has met with every sitting US president but one, Lyndon B. Johnson. Here, she stands in the grounds of Balmoral Castle, Scotland, with President Eisenhower. They are joined by Prince Philip, Princess Anne, and Prince Charles.

1960: Even the royals need family time. This family photo shows the Duke of Edinburgh and his wife, the queen, entertaining the kids, including a baby Prince Andrew, as they relax in the grounds of Balmoral Castle.

1961: The royals were joined by President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy at Buckingham Palace in 1961. The queen was invited to Kennedy’s funeral following his assassination in 1963, but was unable to attend due to being pregnant with Edward.

1962: The royals have always been avid race-goers. In 1962, the queen attended the famous Ascot races with her mother. The queen wore a blue lace​ dress to Ladies Day while her mother opted for a floral print.

1963: While down under in 1963, the royal couple visited Adelaide, South Australia, where they were greeted by around 90,000 schoolchildren, some of whom had travelled hundreds of miles to catch a glimpse of the queen and her husband.

1964: Queen Elizabeth II has made over 261 official overseas visits since coming to the throne. While visiting Canada, part of the British Commonwealth, she addressed the Provincial legislature of Quebec in both French and English in October, 1964.

1965: Winston Churchill died on January 24, 1965 — his funeral took place on February 1. World leaders and politicians from around the globe attended. A Guardian article from the day said: “By one o’clock the great State funeral was over, the Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers, the generals and Politicians from the world over had paid their respects.”

Source: The Guardian

1966: Queen Elizabeth II presents the World Cup, the Jules Rimet trophy, to England’s team captain Bobby Moore, July 30, 1966. This was the first and only time England has ever won the World Cup.

1967: As part of a six-day visit to Canada, the queen had the opportunity to shelter from the rain and ride the Expo 67 electric train, which at the time was revolutionary. It was originally constructed for the 1967 world fair which took place in Montreal.

1968: To mark the 50th anniversary of the RAF, her majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh toured the Royal Air Force Base in Abingdon​, England. In this photo, they’re driven past a collection of Bloodhound missiles.

1969: Throughout her reign, the queen has met some of the men and women who helped shape history. Astronauts, and first men on the moon, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were invited to meet with the monarch in Buckingham Palace.

1970: The Queen entertained US president Richard Nixon and his wife on many occasions. This photo shows them with Prime Minister Edward Heath at Chequers, the country retreat of Britain’s prime ministers. The queen has only visited Chequers three times throughout her reign.

1971: In 1971, Japanese Emperor Hirohito visited Britain for four days. The Emperor and Queen Elizabeth II rode in an open Landau through the gates of Buckingham Palace in a lavish procession after his arrival at Victoria Station.

1972: It was in 1972 that the queen embarked on a tour of Asia. She paid a visit to Malaysia, where she stopped to speak to school children along the way.

1973: Queen Elizabeth II, with her husband Prince Philip, left, arrive at an “Old Canada” exhibition, in High Park, Toronto.

1974: Queen Elizabeth II of England and the Duke of Edinburgh toast the King of Malaysia, seated between them in evening on Thursday, July 12, 1974, at Claridges in London. The dinner marked the third day of the King and Queen of Malaysia’s visit to England.

1975: Film and music icon, Barbara Streisand, shakes hands with the monarch in London in 1975 at the Royal Film performance. After the presentations, the Queen saw the musical “Funny Lady,” in which Streisand is the star.

1976: US President Gerald Force leads Queen Elizabeth II in a dance following a State Dinner at The White House. The dinner party was thrown in honour of her majesty during her tour of the US.

1977: This year marked the Queen’s silver jubilee — celebrating 25 years on the throne. As part of the festivities, she conducted a brief walkabout in London where she met and spoke to members of the public before attending​ a ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

1978: Here, the queen reviews her Yeoman of the Guard, the world’s oldest military corps, in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

1979: The monarch has been a regular guest of Middle Eastern leaders throughout her reign. Here, she is escorted by King Khali of Saudi Arabia, far right, after her arrival at Riyadh Airport, Saudi Arabia. This was one of just eight official state visits to various countries made that year.

1980: It was in 1980 that the queen visited the Vatican for the first time. Here, she talks to Pope John Paul II while her husband looks on.

1981: The queen looks over the crowd of 600,000 people who lined the streets of London on the day of Charles and Diana’s wedding, while the bride and groom kiss. An estimated 750 million people watched the event worldwide.

1982: Pope John Paul II sought to overcome centuries of distrust when he became the first pope to visit British shores in 1982, preaching reconciliation between the Vatican and Anglicans even as British troops battled Catholic Argentines in the Falklands.

1983: Mother Teresa of Calcutta, one of modern history’s most iconic religious figures, receives the Insignia of the Honorary Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II at the Rashtrapati Shavar in New Delhi. The order recognises distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture.

1984: Queen Elizabeth II arrives through the avenues of guns during the 2nd day of her review of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in East Germany at Dortmund on Wednesday, making for a dramatic picture.

1985: Proprietor of the Times of London Rupert Murdoch and Queen Elizabeth II look over printing operations as editions of Friday, March 1 issues of the Times newspaper go to press. The Queen’s visit marked the newspaper’s 200th anniversary.

1986: Queen Elizabeth II is followed by joyous Chinese children as she tours a children’s center in Canton during her state visit to President Li Xiannian.

1987: King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, who carried out a four-day state visit to Britain, with Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen Mother, and the Duke of Edinburgh, before they attended a banquet in the King’s honour at Buckingham Palace. The Queen wore the chain of the Order of King Abdul Aziz in honour of the King.

1988: The Queen visited the Netherlands in 1988 to celebrate 300 years of friendship between the two nations. As part of her visit, she and Dutch Queen Beatrix walked through the Arnhem-Oosterbeek War Cemetery, in Oosterbeek. Many British paratroopers who died in World War II are buried in the cemetery​.

1989: An attendant at the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque salutes as Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II tours in Kuala Lumpur. The Queen wore a special cloak and slippers required inside the mosque.

1990: The British Royal Family, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, The Prince, and Princess of Wales, Princess William and Harry, watched a flypast​ which marked the Queen’s 65th birthday, from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

1991: During their 1991 trip to the US, then President George H. Bush escorted the Queen and her husband onto the field at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The royals saw the Orioles play the Oakland A’s — it was the first baseball game they ever watched.

1992: Disaster struck in 1992 when Windsor Castle caught fire and was partly destroyed. The hall was completely destroyed along with eight other principal rooms and over 100 other rooms. The repair work on all fire damaged areas cost £37 million.

1993: The Queen Mother, stands between her two daughters, Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret while celebrating her 93rd birthday at Clarence House in London. 1993 was also the year Buckingham Palace was opened to the public for the first time.

1994: It was in 1994 that construction on the Channel Tunnel was completed. Queen Elizabeth II and French President Francois Mitterrand unveiled a plaque in front of the head of the drill used to bore through the underwater chalk, to mark the occasion in Coquelles, France.

1995: President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary arrived in London for a five-day European trip in November 1995.

1996: In 1996, the Queen visited the scene of one of the greatest tragedies in recent British history — The Dunblane Massacre. Queen Elizabeth II and her daughter, Princess Anne, visited the small Scottish town to lay wreaths outside the school where 16 children and one teacher were shot and killed.

1997: Tragedy struck a year later also when Princess Diana was killed by injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris. This photo shows The queen and Prince Philip observing the vast sea of flowers left outside Buckingham Palace in the wake of Diana’s death. The queen faced intense backlash from the public for failing to publicly address Diana’s passing.

1998: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, celebrated her 98th birthday in 1998. In this photo, she waves as she poses with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren outside her official residence, Clarence House.

1999: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II joined Housing Manager Liz McGinniss, left rear, and Susan McCarron for tea in McCarron’s housing association home in the Castlemilk area of Glasgow. The visit was an example of Britain’s royal family experimenting with a more intimate, informal approach on meet-the-people tours, whereby they visited homes and spent time with families around the country.

2000: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, celebrated her 100th birthday from the balcony of Buckingham Palace with her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. Cheering fans lined her procession route to Buckingham Palace shouting happy 100th birthday wishes to a woman who won the love and admiration of the nation during a turbulent century.

2001: The following year, the world remembered those who lost their lives in the attacks of 9/11. In this picture, a distraught Queen Elizabeth II wipes a tear from her face as she’s comforted by a member of the clergy in St Paul’s Cathedral following a memorial service.

2002: 2002 was a difficult year for The queen. Both her sister, Princess Margaret, and her mother passed away within a month of each other. The picture below shows the Queen and other members of the family during the funeral of the Queen Mother.

2003: Putin landed in Britain for a historic state visit that was aimed at repairing diplomatic damage from the Iraq war. This was the last time the Russian President visited the UK.

2004: To mark 10 years since the passing of Princess Diana, a memorial fountain was erected in London’s Hyde Park. The £3.6 million creation at the side of the Serpentine was surrounded by controversy, facing delays and over-running its budget by £600,000.

2005: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attended the National Service of Remembrance at St. Paul’s Cathedral for the victims of the London Bombings. The service saw candles lit to represent the four sites bombed on July 7 that killed 52 people. It was also this year that Prince Charles and Camilla got married.

2006: The queen celebrated her 80th birthday in 2006. A firework display, which she can be seen watching in the photo below, was put on at Kew Palace in her honour before she celebrated at a private family dinner.

2007: The queen and Prince Philip visited the White House in 2007 to attend the annual State Dinner, hosted by George Bush Jr. and his wife, Laura Bush. George Bush praised the two nations’ relationship, saying: “Our two nations hold fundamental values in common. We honor our traditions and our shared history… And we have built our special relationship on the surest foundations.”

2008: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II stood as she delivered a speech at the start of a state banquet for France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy at Windsor Castle, near London.

2009: This image had royalists up in arms as Michelle Obama broke royal protocol by touching the queen. However, The queen obviously found a friend in Michelle as she returned the gesture and posed for photos with her.

2010: This hilarious photo did the rounds in 2010. Something obviously tickled The queen and her son, Prince Charles, as they laugh uncontrollably at the Braemar Gathering. The sporting event is known colloquially as “The Games” and attracts visitors from around the world to the small village.

2011: It was the wedding that captivated the world. In 2011, Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson, Prince William, married Kate Middleton in front of an audience of hundreds of millions. Families around the world were glued to their TV sets. The couple even received a message of congratulations from the crew on the ISS.

2012: The queen had a lot to celebrate in 2012. It was the year of the London Olympics and also the year of the diamond jubilee. 1.2 million people took to the streets of London (pictured below) to celebrate her 60 years on the throne.

2013: Malala Yousafzai attended a reception for youth, education and the Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace. The Pakistani teenager, an advocate for education for girls, became the face of women’s rights in the Middle East after she survived a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012 on her way home from school.

2014: Here, the queen walks through a field of ceramic poppies at The Tower of London in October 2014. The poppies were part of a ceramic poppy installation called “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red,” which marked the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. There were 888,246 poppies in total, each one representing a British military fatality during the war.

2015: A small dancing robot at “Technische Universitaet” (Technical University) in Berlin put a smile on The Queen’s face earlier this year during her official visit to Germany.

2016: In celebration of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince George and Prince William posed during a Royal Mail photoshoot for a stamp sheet.

2017: Queen Elizabeth waved to onlookers as she left the Easter Sunday service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England.