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Background

The Queen was born in London on 21 April 1926, the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, subsequently King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Five weeks later she was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the chapel at Buckingham Palace.

The Princess's early years were spent at 145 Piccadilly, the London house taken by her parents shortly after her birth; at White Lodge in Richmond Park; and at the country homes of her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, and the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. When she was six years old, her parents took over Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park as their own country home.

At age 18 she was made a State Counsellor, a confidante of the king. During World War II she trained as a junior subaltern (second lieutenant) in the women's services.

Having held the Throne for forty seven years, her first speech was made during wartime when, aged 14, she addressed the children of Britain and the Commonwealth and appears capable of remaining on the throne for quite some time.

Her role is to represent Britain around the world, to preside at ceremonial occasions and also to carry out constitutional functions. She is politically impartial and only acts on the advice of the government in office. However bills cannot be passed without her consent. The Queen opens State Parliament with The Queen's Speech, which is actually written by the government of the day.
Queen Elizabeth II is a very keen horsewoman and the succession of corgis who have remained by her side since her childhood, have almost become a national institution. Commonly photographed riding around Windsor Great Park, in her trademark headscarf, the Queen remains remarkably active. Owning and breeding thoroughbred racehorses until the present day, she is a popular sight at the major race meetings throughout the country.

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