In 1946, Elizabeth became engaged to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten – later Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. But her father asked her not to make the news of their engagement public until she turns 21.
On her birthday, she gave a speech that was broadcast by radio around the Commonwealth during a tour of South Africa. “I declare before you that my whole life, whether long or short, will be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,” he said.
The couple married in a relatively simple ceremony at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. As Britain was still recovering from the war, Elizabeth had to collect clothing coupons for her dress.
They had their first child, and Elizabeth’s heir, Charles – the future Prince of Wales – on November 14, 1948 at Buckingham Palace. Their second child, Annie, 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 February 6, 1952, while visiting rural Kenya, Elizabeth received news from her husband that her father had died, marking 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 as a queen.