Feb 4 - The journey of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II from childhood to veteran monarch celebrating 60 years on the throne. Paul Chapman reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, eldest child of the Duke and Duchess of York, was only ever expected to play a supporting role in Britain's monarchy. When she was born on April 21, 1926 her father was only second in line to the throne. But her uncle, King Edward VIII, stepped down to marry twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth's father became King, and she his heir apparent. She showed a common touch, signing up with the women's division of the British Army during the Second World War. Two years after the war's end she used a visit to South Africa to dedicate her life to the service of the Commonwealth. SOUNDBITE: Princess Elizabeth saying (English): "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong." Elizabeth acceded to the throne on the death of her father in February 1952. Her coronation at the age of 27 followed in June. The new monarch's youth caused some comment but not for long in a nation keen for a fresh start after the war and its ensuing years of austerity. Over the years Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip had four children. The decades ahead appeared a golden time for the British monarchy. The Royal Family was in the spotlight like never before - and times change. The marriages of two of the monarch's children had fallen apart. Then Charles and Diana announced their separation after the publication of a biography revealing the rocky state of their relationship. To top it all the Queen's favourite royal home, Windsor Castle, was badly damaged by fire. SOUNDBITE: Queen Elizabeth saying (English): "1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents it has turned out to be an 'annus horribilis' (horrible year)." In 1997 the Queen came under unprecedented pressure to recognise the nation's grief over the death of Princess Diana. SOUNDBITE: Queen Elizabeth saying (English): "What I say to you now, as your Queen and as a grandmother, I say from my heart. First I want to pay tribute to Diana myself. She was an exceptional and gifted human being. In good times and bad she never lost her capacity to smile an laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness." The dawn of the new millennium appears to have seen a change for the better for Britain's royals. The marriage of the Queen's grandson Prince William to Kate Middleton drew an estimated worldwide tv audience of two billion. The monarch has created a string of firsts in recent years. The first state visit by a Pope... ...The first state visit by a British monarch to the Republic of Ireland since independence in 1921. She's also met every U.S. president during her reign except Lyndon B. Johnson. At the age of 85 the Queen's showing no sign of slowing up. But her 60 years on the throne put her only in second place in the league list of royal longevity. She has more than three years to go to beat her husband's great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Paul Chapman, Reuters