Queen Elizabeth II has been known by many titles over the years. Name changes can get a bit confusing for us non-royals, so quick shoutout to the Queen for keeping her birth name after taking the throne.

She was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary to father Prince Albert (who was later renamed King George V) and mother Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Over the past nine decades, she has earned a real mouthful of official royal titles — not unlike Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen — including, but certainly not limited to, Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith.

Naturally, it wasn’t just the Queen’s various names and titles that changed over time; Her Majesty herself has also transformed drastically over the past 92 years. From her physical appearance, to her personal style, to even her personality, she is the Queen of transformation. How exactly did she manage to seamlessly evolve before our eyes? You might just want to keep on reading.

Growing up as a princess

Queen Elizabeth II as a child

When the Queen was born she was, of course, not yet Queen. In fact, her father wasn’t even king. He began to rule in 1936 when Elizabeth II was just 11 years old. Let’s just say that growing up as a British princess is certainly different than being raised a Disney princess.

According to royal expert and biographer Ingrid Seward’s book, The Queen’s Speech: An Intimate Portrait of the Queen in Her Own Words, Elizabeth II was raised mostly by her nanny Clara Knight, a “no-nonsense” woman. Knight was very strict and routine-oriented — quite the party-pooper. Thankfully for the then-princess, a younger nursery maid, Margaret MacDonald, was also hired. She shared a bedroom with Elizabeth II and the two ended up becoming close friends — the Queen even nicknamed her ‘Bobo’ — until MacDonald passed away in 1993.

Queen Mary, grandmother of Elizabeth II, was very strict as well — she was of the “children should be seen and not heard” era. Whether correlated or not, the Queen grew up “painfully shy.”

She was “flushed and radiant with happiness” with her future husband

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

Back when Queen Elizabeth was a very reserved 13-year-old princess, she attended the royal wedding of Prince George and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. It was there that she met the cousin of the bride, an 18-year-old man by the name of Philip Mountbatten. We now know him as Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband.

The same year, Philip joined the Royal Navy and served during the Second World War, becoming one of the youngest first lieutenants at just 21 years old. Despite conflicting schedules, the two became engaged and, in 1947, made their first official appearance together at a Buckingham Palace event.

According to The Telegraph, Lady Mabell Airlie, lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary, said the then-princess appeared “flushed and radiant with happiness” while attending the garden party with her beau. While Philip appeared shy to partygoers, Queen Elizabeth was well on her way to becoming a formidable queen — unbeknownst to anyone at the time.

Raising children as a royal

royal baby

Not long after their first public appearance together, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip married. Just about a month after their wedding, Elizabeth II became pregnant. For months, she suffered from morning sickness — Kate Middleton can definitely relate — but that didn’t hold her back from keeping up an active social life. In November 1948, the princess at the time gave birth to a son, Prince Charles. The transition from newlywed to mother wasn’t necessarily an easy one.

In a letter to her cousin sent just a couple weeks after giving birth, Elizabeth II wrote (via Vanity Fair), “I had no idea that one could be kept so busy in bed — there seems to be something happening all the time!” Nevertheless, the new mother was happy. She continued, “I still find it hard to believe that I really have a baby of my own!”

Just one year and nine months later, the couple welcomed another child into their home — this time a girl: Princess Anne.

From mom to monarch in a few years

Young Queen Elizabeth II

Imagine having a preschooler and toddler at home, then finding out your dear father passed away — oh, and that you’ll need to step up and rule the country now. That’s essentially what happened when Elizabeth II became Queen in 1952. When her father passed, Elizabeth II was on a diplomatic tour. She and Philip were gifted a stay at a lodge in Kenya as a belated wedding present. Her husband was the one to break the news, according to Time, and he did so gently, walking with her along the rivers of Mount Kenya.

Losing your parent is tragic enough — but imagine having to immediately take his role, with no time to grieve. That must have been heartbreaking. Elizabeth II was caught off guard by her father’s passing, even telling others the day prior that she wanted to come back to Kenya with him. “He’d love it,” Time reported her as saying.

In perhaps her greatest transformation of all, she left England a princess and returned Queen Elizabeth II.

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