Queen Elizabeth II: How unexpected circumstances led to her coronation at 25 in 1952

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Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history, passed away at the age of 96 on Thursday. She became the queen in 1953 after the death of her father – King George VI – and since then, she has played a massive role in the history of the country and in many ways – the world.

However, the path of her ascension was filled with unexpected circumstances and surprises.

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King George VI was the second in line for the throne after his elder brother King Edward VIII back in the 1930s. However, Edward decided to abdicate the throne according to rules and protocols of the royal family as he wanted to marry twice-divorced Wallis Spencer, who was socially and politically unacceptable as a prospective British queen – in 1936.

The rule was not smooth for King George VI as he had to guide the country through the second World War and a number of political tensions in the United Kingdom. He finally died of coronary thrombosis in 1952 after suffering from lung cancer and various other illnesses for quite some time.

Also read | Who is next? Line of succession explained after death of Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth, who was 25 years old at that time, was visiting Kenya along her husband Prince Philip.

“It was not until early in the afternoon that Philip got the news (by telephone from a local newspaper) that changed their lives. He sent an equerry to call London for confirmation, then gently led his wife down to the river’s edge and told her that her father was dead. The Queen returned to the lodge on her husband’s arm, shaken but in full command of herself,” the TIME reported.

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