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Only 14 months old, the future Queen Elizabeth II already commands attention as she poses prettily for the camera in 1927. The photo is among those currently on exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery's Diamond Jubilee retrospective of the monarch, which gallery director Sandy Nairne says, [reflects] her long reign and also the respect and affection that is felt towards her."
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LILIBET & MARGARET
Princesses Elizabeth (nicknamed "Lilibet" by her family) and Margaret sit for a portrait in 1937. The girls had just recently learned Elizabeth was to become queen some day: Their uncle, Edward VIII, had just abdicated in December 1936 to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson on Dec. 11, 1936, leaving their father, King George VI, to ascend the throne. Margaret, who later became the Countess of Snowdon, died in 2002 at age 71.
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The royal family – King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret – pose at the Royal Lodge in April 1940 with several of the family's pet dogs. The queen's love of corgis is well known, and they have the run of Buckingham Palace to this day.
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The princess poses on horseback at Windsor Great Park, the royal family's traditional private hunting estate, on her 14th birthday in 1940. One of Elizabeth's lifelong passions, the monarch owns several racehorses, and kicks off her Jubilee this year with a visit to the Epsom Derby, her favorite sporting event.
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Princess Elizabeth poses in uniform while being taught to drive military vehicles in 1945. During World War II, the princess joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service at the rank of second subaltern, and did her wartime duty as a driver and mechanic.
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Elizabeth and Margaret pose in evening gowns in 1946. Then 20, the elder princess had already fallen in love with a distant relative whom she'd met seven years earlier and with whom she'd kept up a correspondence – her future husband, Prince Philip. The couple were secretly engaged the same year this photo was taken.
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ROYALS IN REPOSE
The royal family pose in Buckingham Palace in 1946. Princess Elizabeth (standing) was being groomed to rule as her father's health deteriorated. (A heavy smoker, King George died of lung cancer in 1952.)
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LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Princess Elizabeth beams at her new husband, Philip Mountbatten, on their wedding day on Nov. 20, 1947. Philip, Elizabeth's distant cousin, had been Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark but renounced his titles and any claims to foreign thrones before marrying the English princess. Some 200 million people around the world listened to the BBC radio broadcast of the wedding.
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PRIDE AND JOY
In February 1952, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip share the spotlight with their firstborn son, Prince Charles, who had been born four years earlier. "The baby is very sweet, and Philip and I are enormously proud of him," the new mother wrote to a cousin in 1948. "I still find it hard to believe that I really have a baby of my own!"
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Elizabeth poses in a glamorous evening gown and diamonds in the year she became monarch in a portrait by Dorothy Wilding, who had photographed the royal family since the late 1920s. Wilding eventually became the official photographer of the royal couple at Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, and her photos were used to make Britain's official postage stamps.
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MEET HER MAJESTY
In full regalia and holding the scepter and orb that signify the monarch's dominion over her kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II poses for an official portrait in 1953. Elizabeth had learned of her father's death – and that she was suddenly now queen – while on a public tour of Kenya on Feb. 6, 1952. Her official coronation, however, took place on June 2, 1953.
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