Queen Elizabeth II


The present head of the British monarchy, Queen Elizabeth II, has been on the throne since 1952 and is the only head of state in the world to reign over more than one independent country - she is officially Queen of no less than sixteen other states, including Australia and Canada.

Born in 1926 and acceding to the throne at just 26 years old, Elizabeth II is one of the longest reigning monarchs in the world. In 2006 she marked her eightieth birthday with a well-attended tour of the country, but it was in 2002 that the public's affection for The Queen was really demonstrated when she celebrated her Golden Jubilee with a raft of special parades and concerts.

The Queen, aside from her position as head of state, also holds a number of important ceremonial roles, such as being head of the Church of England - known as Defender of the Faith - and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, who are asked to swear allegiance to Queen and country.

As head of state The Queen has a number of Royal residences to choose from, but is said to dislike her ceremonial home, Buckingham Palace, preferring to spend her time at Windsor Castle, Sandringham or Balmoral in Scotland.

Something that the present Queen is well known for are her many regular official trips abroad, in fact she has made more overseas visits than any other British monarch in history. Despite the fact that she is now in her eighties, it is a rare year that The Queen doesn't go on at least one Royal tour, with the Commonwealth unsurprisingly receiving most attention.