When Queen Elizabeth was born to the Duke and Duchess of York in 1926, a very different life was mapped out for her. The oldest daughter of the second son, she was third in line to the throne. No one expected
her uncle King Edward VIII to abdicate his throne so that he could marry American socialite Wallis Simpson. No one expected her father to become King George VI, and certainly no one expected him to die when she was just 26 years old in 1952, making her Queen Elizabeth.
In the early days, she was still a princess who could have reasonably expected a life on the peripheral of the rest of the senior royals. One could argue an easier life. In those days, she was simply a beloved little girl with curly hair and an easy smile who her
father nicknamed “Lilibet,” friend to dogs and horses alike, devoted older sister to Princess Margaret.
Before the abdication changed her path, before she met and fell in love with Prince Philip, before she became the longest reigning monarch in British history, before she became a mother of four and
grandmother and great-grandmother, she was happy little Princess Elizabeth. And her life looked kind of perfect. Sweet Baby Lilibet Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth looked delighted to welcome her parents back after a royal visit to Australia in 1927.
She Outta Be In Pictures Hulton Deutsch/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth is the sweetest little baby in her 1928 childhood portrait. That pose.
A Final Photo As An Only Child Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of York posed for a final photo as parents of only children before welcoming their second daughter, Princess Margaret, in 1930.
Proud Big Sister Photo 12/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth was very protective of baby sister Princess Margaret when she arrived in 1930. Also her finger waves are incredible.
A Queen Of A Bridesmaid PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images
When Princess Elizabeth was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Lady May Cambridge and Captain Henry Abel Smith in 1931, she already looked like a queen. Not just because of the tiara and the fur cape, but that poise.
She’s A Real Wild One PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth is having a blast riding a tricycle through the park in 1933.
A Dog Lover From Way Back Imagno/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
She was just five years old but already Princess Elizabeth was a huge dog lover. Look how careful she was with her little pal in 1931.
And Speaking Of Dogs... Photo 12/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were gifted a miniature cottage on the grounds of Windsor Castle by the people of Wales, and they filled it with dogs. The royal kids still play in that house to this day.
Let’s Not Forget Horses Photo 12/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
As much as Princess Elizabeth loved dogs, she has been a lifelong, passionate equestrian. That look of joy as she rode her horse as a 9-year-old. Amazing.
Practicing Her Royal Wave Central Press/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth joined her grandfather King George V and grandmother Queen Mary (along with Princess Margaret who could barely see over the edge) on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for their Silver Jubilee in 1935. She’s got the royal wave down pat.
Living Her Best Life Lisa Sheridan/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
Five dogs. Matching kilts and sweaters. Natural curls. Clearly Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth were living their best lives at Royal Lodge in 1936.
Pulling Her Weight Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
In celebration of the King and Queen’s Silver Jubilee, Princess Elizabeth had some fun trying to pull her weight at the fair.
Pantomime Princesses Lisa Sheridan/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth was Prince Charming and Princess Margaret was Cinderella in a pantomime the sisters put on at Windsor Castle. A queen playing a prince. Love it.
The Day It All Changed Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth was just 11 years old when her father became King George VI in 1937. Her life was changed, but she was all smiles.
Matching Students Photo 12/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret wore matching outfits to do their school work together in 1938 at Royal Lodge.
Even Queens Need Lessons Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth was taken out for a riding lesson, because even queens have to start somewhere.
Lifesaving Lilibet ullstein bild Dtl./ullstein bild/Getty Images
If you’re ever worried about drowning around the Queen, never fear. She took lifeguard classes as a child and pretended to save Princess Margaret from drowning.
Broadcasting During The Blitz
If anyone was curious about the mettle of Queen Elizabeth, please remember that she spoke to children across the U.K. during the Blitz in 1940 to comfort them when she was just 14 years old. With sister Princess Margaret by her side.
The Slightest Teenage Pout Lisa Sheridan/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
There’s something about this 1940 photo taken of Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle that makes me think she might have been moody like all teenagers. What a thought.
The Toughest Girl Guide In The Troop Lisa Sheridan/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth was a Girl Guide in 1942, and she wore the uniform like she meant business. Foreshadowing for her life as a queen and a mother, I suspect.