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Britain's Queen Elizabeth visits New York
Queen Elizabeth II meets guests at the British Garden at Hanover Square in New York, Tuesday, July 6, 2010. UPI/Henny Ray Abrams/Pool
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Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born 21 April 1926) is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. As Head of the Commonwealth, she is the figurehead of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations; as the British monarch, she is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Elizabeth was born in London, and educated privately at home. Her father ascended the throne as George VI in 1936 on the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. Elizabeth began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, in which she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. When her father died in 1952, Elizabeth became Head of the Commonwealth and queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Her coronation service in 1953 was the first to be televised.

During her 59-year reign, currently the second-longest for a British monarch, she became queen of 25 other Commonwealth countries as they gained independence. Between 1956 and 1992, half of her realms, including South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (renamed Sri Lanka), became republics. Her Silver and Golden Jubilees were celebrated in 1977 and 2002; planning for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 is underway.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Elizabeth II."
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