Elizabeth II, From Princess to Queen 1939-1957

If you’ve been enjoying Netflix’s new series The Crown, then you may like these vintage photos of Queen Elizabeth II, from 1939-1957. Long before she became a nonagenarian senior citizen in 2016, Elizabeth was just an ordinary royal princess…

princess elizabeth 1942, queen elizabeth, girl guidesIn July 1939, 18-year-old naval cadet Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was invited by his uncle “Dickie” Mountbatten, to have tea with the royal family when they visited the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. By all reports, 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth was smitten with Prince Philip.

Right, Elizabeth ties knots for the Girl Guides. (1942 Photo: Fox Photos Ltd. / Girl Guides of Canada | Flickr Some rights reserved)

According to Vanity Fair, Prince Philip visited his cousins occasionally at Windsor Castle during World War II, and while he was posted overseas, Elizabeth and he began writing to each other.

Below, Princess Elizabeth (centre, seated) undergoing training with the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945. 

princess elizabeth 1945, queen elizabeth, auxiliary territorial service training, world war ii, wwii (Photo: Horton W. G. / Imperial War Museum | Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

By March 1946, World War II was over and Prince Philip was now a frequent visitor at Buckingham Palace. In the summer of 1946, Philip proposed to Elizabeth while they were both staying at Balmoral, and she accepted. Below, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret during a 1947 Royal Visit to South Africa.

princess elizabeth 1947, queen elizabeth, princess margaret, south africa, royal tour (1947 Photo: SAR&H Phoro Journal Ian Pretorius Collection | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)



queen elizabeth ii, 1947, wedding, prince philip, duke of edinborough, princess elizabeth, younger

Elizabeth’s father King George VI insisted that their engagement be kept secret until after her 21st birthday in April 1947. Philip gave up his Danish and Greek royal titles in order to become a naturalised British subject, and assumed his grandparent’s surname Mountbatten, before their engagement was announced.

Just before their wedding, Philip was created Duke of Edinburgh by King George VI. He also quit smoking, because of Elizabeth’s (justified) concern over her father’s King George VI’s heavy smoking habit. 

The 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinborough took place in November 1948.

The photograph showcases Princess Elizabeth in her wedding dress, made of pearl-and-crystal-encrusted ivory silk satin, with a 15-foot train, was designed by Norman Hartnell. She wore Queen Mary’s (her grandmother’s) diamond tiara over a tulle and lace veil.

Philip wore his naval uniform with the new Order of the Garter insignia pinned to it.

(Photo: Bridal Guide)

Princess Elizabeth and Philip’s first child, their son Prince Charles was born in November, 1948. Prince Charles’ younger sister Princess Anne was born to Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinborough in August 1950. Below, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh circa 1950.

queen elizabeth 1950, prince philip, duke of edinburgh (Photo: National Film Board of Canada / Library and Archives Canada | Flickr SRR)

After King George VI’s death in February 1952, Elizabeth & Philip moved their family into the cosy 775-room Buckingham Palace. Her coronation took place in June, 1953. Below, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne in October 1957. 

queen elizabeth 1957, prince charles, duke of edinborough, prince charles, duke of wales, princess anne, family(Photo: Library and Archives Canada | Flickr Some rights reserved)

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & baby boomer writer Anita Hamilton has always been interested in the "real people" stories behind the characters that create and inhabit the world of music, books, movies, television shows, current events, history, etc. A lifelong love of research (ok, nosiness) and writing, combined with a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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