The future Queen Elizabeth II grew up under the backdrop of war, as most of her teenage years fell during World War 2. After becoming Queen in 1952, she has been at the nation’s helm amid several global conflicts, the most recent being Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month.
World War 2 (1939 to 1945)
The future Queen Elizabeth II witnessed World War 2 as a teenager under the reign of her father, King George VI.
Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret were initially evacuated from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle, and the young Princess spoke to her fellow evacuated children around the world via BBC Children’s Hour at the age of 14.
Aged 18, the future Queen insisted on playing her part in the war effort by signing up for the women’s branch of the Armed Forces, the Auxiliary Territorial Service, where she trained as a mechanic.
On Victory in Europe Day in 1945, Elizabeth and Margaret were among the crowds in London celebrating the end of the devastating six-year conflict that saw so many lives lost.
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Suez Crisis (1956 to 1957)
In the early years of the Queen’s reign, the Suez Crisis saw the UK, France and Israel invade Egypt to regain control of the Suez Canal, a world hub for the passage of trade.
The man-made canal controlled two-thirds of the oil used by Europe, and Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser had nationalised it.
The Israeli-French-British alliance received significant pressure from the US and the Soviet Union to withdraw, which they eventually did entirely by the spring of 1957.
The dispute resulted in an embarrassing failure for the UK, and the resignation of the Conservative Prime Minister at the time, Anthony Eden, swiftly followed.
The Troubles (1968 to 1998)
Sectarian conflict engulfed Northern Ireland for three decades. Unionists who largely identified as Protestant wished to remain part of the United Kingdom, while nationalists who mainly identified as Roman Catholic wanted Northern Ireland to be part of the Republic of Ireland.
An estimated 3,600 people were killed and thousands more people were wounded on both sides of the conflict, and shootings, violence and bombings were commonplace.
The Royal Family were directly impacted by the conflict, as Prince Philip’s uncle Lord Mountbatten was killed after a bomb planted on his fishing boat by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated at sea in Mullaghmore, County Sligo.
In 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was signed, paving the way for a system of devolved government in Northern Ireland based on the principle of power-sharing.
In 2011, the Queen and Prince Philip were invited to Ireland by the nation’s president, Mary McAleese, marking the first time the Queen had ever visited the Republic of Ireland.
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Falklands War (1982)
During the premiership of Margaret Thatcher, conflict erupted after Argentina claimed sovereignty over the British Overseas Territory, the Falkland Islands, an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean.
The British Government sent the Royal Navy to intervene and, after 74 days of fighting, Argentina surrendered.
The Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, served during the conflict as a helicopter pilot in the Royal Navy.
War in Afghanistan (2001 to 2021)
Following the September 11 attacks on the US by terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda, the world superpower invaded Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to extradite Osama bin Laden.
The UK joined the US along with other allied countries, the Taliban was subsequently ousted from power and the UK maintained a military presence in the region for several years.
But in 2021, US and UK military forces controversially pulled out of Afghanistan and the country fell back under Taliban control.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (2022 to present)
The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked international condemnation of President Vladimir Putin.
As of March 2022, the UK has not sent its Armed Forces to the nation, but the Government has pledged £220million in support to Ukraine so far.
The Queen’s eldest son Prince Charles has spoken out against Russia’s invasion, calling it an attack “on democracy, on open society, on freedom itself.”
Other members of the Royal Family have also pledged their support for Ukraine, including Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.