On April 21, 1926, Queen Elizabeth II, the present reigning monarch of the British Commonwealth, was born.
Elizabeth became queen in 1953, after the death of her father, King George VI. As queen of the British Commonwealth (which includes 16 nations – the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincen and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis – and 129 million people), Elizabeth’s reach is potentially vast – but, in keeping with the spirit of modern constitutional monarchies (in which royals are more cultural figureheads than political leaders), she rarely interferes in political matters.
During World War II, Elizabeth served in the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service as No. 230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor. Rising to the rank of Junior Commander by war’s end, she trained as a driver and mechanic and drove an ambulance.
Elizabeth has been married to Prince Philip, her second cousin (and formerly a royal prince of Greece and Denmark), since 1947. They have four children, one of whom is Prince Charles, the next in line to the throne and former husband of the late Princess Diana, with whom he had (tabloid and teen girl favorites) Princes William and Harry.
The website of the Royal Household cites horses, dogs, walks in the countryside, and Scottish dancing as among the Queen’s interests.
In 2006, Pathé Pictures and Granada Productions released a movie about Queen Elizabeth II, called 'The Queen'. The film was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Original Screenplay, and won for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Helen Mirren, in the role of the Queen).
This month, First Lady Michelle Obama created quite a stir in the British media when she was seen putting her arm around the Queen. Royal monarchy protocol states that thou shalt not touch the queen – unless touched. Apparently, the Queen put her arm around Mrs. Obama first, which made it okay for Mrs. Obama to return the gesture. The Queen reportedly also told the First Lady, “Now that we’ve met, let’s keep in touch.”