In 1946, Elizabeth became engaged to Lt. Philip Mountbatten — later Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. But her father asked that the news of their engagement not be made public until after she turned 21.
For her birthday, she delivered a speech during a tour of South Africa that was broadcast via radio around the Commonwealth. “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be dedicated to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,” she said.
The couple were married in a relatively simple ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947. Elizabeth had to collect clothing coupons for her dress as Britain was still recovering from the war.
They had their first child, and Elizabeth’s heir presumptive, Charles — the future Prince of Wales — on Nov. 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace. Their second child, Anne, was born in 1950.
While Philip was stationed in Malta on naval duty, Princess Elizabeth visited him four times. However, after King George was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1951 and underwent surgery to remove part of his lung, Elizabeth had to take on more and more royal duties.
On Feb. 6, 1952, while on a visit to rural Kenya, Elizabeth received the news from her husband that her father had died, which meant her own accession to the throne. Her tour was abandoned, and the young woman who had flown to East Africa as a princess returned to Britain a queen.