In Pictures: A reign for the ages takes its place in the history books

·8-min read

The funeral rites for the Queen are the nation’s formal farewell to the woman who reigned for an unprecedented 70 years.

The Queen carried out her duties up until her death at Balmoral in Scotland, having also juggled a family life relentlessly exposed to the scrutiny of the press and, unlike her predecessors, television.

She reigned from a period when the nation was still recovering from the Second World War and was going through a period of intense social change.

The Empire’s transformation into the Commonwealth had already started but continued under her reign.

Princess Elizabeth learned she had become Queen in Kenya, in a tree-top hotel, when she was informed of the death of her father King George VI at a time when she was raising young children, and she returned to British soil to be greeted by her first prime minister Sir Winston Churchill and opposition leader Clement Attlee.

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Treetops Hotel, perched in the branches of a giant fig tree in Kenya. It was here that the former Princess Elizabeth learned of the death of her father, King George VI, and that she was now Queen (PA)
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The Queen returned to UK soil in funeral black in honour of her late father (PA)
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The Queen is crowned, with many Britons getting their first experience of television (PA)
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The Gold State Coach, bearing the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, passing through the cheering crowds which, despite the rain, packed Trafalgar Square to greet the sovereign on her way from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace after her coronation (PA)
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The Queen, wearing the Imperial State Crown, and the Duke of Edinburgh, dressed in uniform of Admiral of the Fleet, wave from the balcony to the onlooking crowds at the gates of Buckingham Palace after the coronation (PA)
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Prince Charles and Princess Anne being pushed on a swing by their father, the Duke of Edinburgh, with their mother looking on at Balmoral (PA)
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The Queen escorted by her host, French president Rene Coty, right, as she leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris (PA)

The advent of the 1960s brought in an era of change, with laws on the death penalty, same-sex relationships and abortion all changed during that decade and an explosion in youth culture in what had been a more genteel nation.

The Queen presented the World Cup to Bobby Moore but also had to deal with heartbreaking incidents such as the tragedy at Aberfan that claimed 144 lives, mainly children.

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The Queen in 1960 riding on the racecourse before the opening of the third day of the Royal Ascot meeting (PA)
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The Queen hands the World Cup to Bobby Moore (PA)
Disasters and Accidents – Aberfan Disaster – South Wales
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh follow the pointing finger of local resident, councillor Jim Williams, who lost seven members of his family in the Aberfan disaster (Archive/PA)
Royalty – Queen Mary Birth Plaque – Marlborough House, London
The Duke of Windsor, whose abdication as Edward VIII in the 1930s had put his younger brother on the throne, paving the way for the Queen’s reign, has a rare meeting with one of his successors (Archive/PA)
Picture for every year of The Queen’s life
The royal family in the grounds of Frogmore House, Windsor (PA)
Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II and Neil Armstrong – Buckingham Palace
The Queen and Prince Andrew talk with Neil Armstrong, first man to set foot on the Moon, his wife Janet and Pat Collins, left, wife of Colonel Michael Collins, when the Moon men were received at Buckingham Palace during their triumphal world tour (PA)
Royalty – Investiture of the Prince of Wales – Caernarfon Castle
Charles is invested as Prince of Wales by his mother at Caernarvon (PA)
Royalty – Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips Wedding – London
A curtsey for her mother, the Queen, from Princess Anne, after she had married Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey in 1973 (Archive/PA)
Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II USA State Visit – Washington DC
The Queen waves from the balcony of the White House in Washington as she stands with President Gerald Ford, his wife, first lady Betty Ford, and the Duke of Edinburgh (Archive/PA)
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The Queen on a walkabout in Portsmouth during her Silver Jubilee tour of Great Britain in 1977 (Ron Bell/PA)
Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh wave as Concorde flies by the Royal Yacht Britannia as the royal couple neared Barbados (PA)

The 1980s saw the Queen’s children take big steps in their personal lives, with the weddings of Charles and Diana, and Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

Princess Anne had wed Captain Mark Phillips in the 1970s.

All of those marriages would later break down, and the Queen herself would describe the year 1992 as an annus horribilis.

Royalty – Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer Wedding – London
The Queen on the balcony with the newlywed Charles and Diana (Archive/PA)
Falklands War – Queen and wounded soldier
The Queen talking with Lance Sgt Graham Evans, of the Welsh Guards, when she visited the wounded from the Falklands at the Cambridge Military Hospital at Aldershot (Ron Bell/PA)
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Pope John Paul II and the Queen at Buckingham Palace, London (PA)
Politics – President Mikhail Gorbachev State Visit to Britain – Windsor Castle
The Queen with Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa at Windsor Castle during their two-day visit to Britain (PA)
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The Windsor Castle fire and the marital problems of the Queen’s children made 1992 her annus horribilis (Michael Stephens/PA)

The Queen continued to make overseas tours, including to Russia, which was more monarchy-friendly than the previous Soviet Union.

Her role as head of the Commonwealth also took her on long voyages.

Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II State Visit to Russia
The Queen and Boris Yeltsin exchange a smile as the Queen makes a speech during a state banquet held in her honour at the Kremlin’s Faceted Hall in 1994 (Martin Keene/PA)
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The Queen in Halifax, Canada, in 1994 (Jennifer Reid/PA)
Queen meets Crowds
Dressed in black, the Queen meets the crowds of mourners outside Buckingham Palace after arriving for the funeral of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales (John Giles/PA)
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip – Millennium Dome – London
The Queen joins hands with those around her to sing the traditional New Year’s Eve Auld Lang Syne at midnight during the opening celebrations at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich in south-east London (Fiona Hanson/PA)
Princess Margaret Funeral
The Queen wipes her eyes at the funeral of her sister Princess Margaret; her mother would also die a few months later (Fiona Hanson/PA)
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A young girl unwraps her posy for the Queen as she tours the square in Portree on the Isle of Skye in Scotland as part of her Golden Jubilee tour of the United Kingdom (Ben Curtis/PA)
Royalty – Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee
The Queen waves to the crowds after receiving gifts during her visit to a mosque in Scunthorpe, north Lincolnshire (John Giles/PA)
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The Queen watching proceedings with, left to right, David Cameron, his wife Samantha Cameron and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Braemar Gathering in Braemar (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The wedding of grandson William to the then Kate Middleton further secured the royal line, as did the birth of Prince George, who is expected to become king one day.

The Royal Wedding
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh leave Westminster Abbey after the wedding ceremony of William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in central London (Suzanne Plunkett/PA)
London Olympic Games
The Queen in a video with actor Daniel Craig as James Bond during the London Olympic Games 2012 opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)
Queen Elizabeth II meets Pope Francis
The Queen with Pope Francis as they meet at the Vatican (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

The Queen addressed the nation during the coronavirus lockdown with a message of We’ll Meet Again – she observed the rules in a bubble and one of her few public duties was to emerge from Windsor Castle to knight Captain Sir Tom Moore, who had kept up the nation’s spirits with his fundraising.

She also continued to follow guidance at the funeral of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, where she sat alone.

As the nation got back to normal, the feelgood factor returned with a Platinum Jubilee which saw the Queen joined on the royal balcony with three people also likely to occupy the throne, Charles, William and George.

The monarch could not attend all those events and went to spend her last summer in Balmoral, her Scottish retreat.

She carried out her last public duty in appointing Liz Truss as Prime Minister, having earlier accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson.

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Captain Sir Thomas Moore receiving his knighthood from the Queen during a ceremony at Windsor Castle (Chris Jackson/PA)
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The Queen at the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh during lockdown (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Platinum Jubilee
The Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales, the Queen, Prince George, the Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, and the Duchess of Cambridge appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations (Leon Neal/PA)
Platinum Jubilee
The Queen (Frank Augstein/PA)
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The Queen’s last appearance before the cameras as she prepares to appoint Liz Truss as her 15th prime minister (Jane Barlow/PA)

Her death at Balmoral at the age of 96 brought to an end a reign that had started as a young mother of 25, and a period of mourning ensued as her body travelled to Edinburgh and then London, with her journey ending in Windsor, where she will be laid to rest in a chapel alongside Philip, her parents and the ashes of her sister Margaret.

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The hearse carrying the coffin of the Queen, draped with the Royal Standard of Scotland, leaving Balmoral as it begins its journey to Edinburgh (Owen Humphreys/PA)
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The hearse carrying the coffin of the Queen travels up the Royal Mile after departing St Giles’ Cathedral for Edinburgh Airport (Jane Barlow/PA)
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The coffin of the Queen, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown placed on top, is carried on a horse-drawn gun carriage of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery during the ceremonial procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall (Henry Nicholls/PA)
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King Charles III, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex hold a vigil beside the coffin of their mother, Queen Elizabeth II, as it lies in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London (Yui Mok/PA)