Queen Elizabeth II’s Evolution From Princess to the Longest-Reigning British Monarch


Even before her ascension to the throne, all eyes were on Princess Elizabeth, who would, of course, become Queen Elizabeth II — the longest-reigning British monarch.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Evolution From Princess to the Longest-Reigning British Monarch

Throughout Her Majesty’s time in the spotlight, she’s made it clear that whether she’s attending formal royal engagements or celebrating a joyous occasion — like her grandsons’ weddings — she’ll always put her best fashion foot forward.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Evolution From Princess to the Longest-Reigning British Monarch

In her 95 years, the royal has had quite the style evolution, effortlessly transitioning her wardrobe through the decades. No matter what stage she found herself at in life — be it a newly married wife or at her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth has developed a Stylish reputation.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Evolution From Princess to the Longest-Reigning British Monarch

She often opts for monochromatic ensembles, sensible patent pumps and fashionable coats. The monarch also puts the Crown Jewels to good use, accessorizing her outfits with her iconic pearl necklace or extensive collection of brooches.

As a young princess, she frequently wore floral dresses and pleated gowns. Then, when she married the late Prince Philip in 1947, she picked a wedding dress that was truly fit for a royal. Designed by Norman Hartnell, her gown featured pearl and crystal embroidery and a standout 13-foot train.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Evolution From Princess to the Longest-Reigning British Monarch

The Queen has also broken out formal royal attire on a handful of occasions. For example, in 1983, she wore a full uniform to salute her guard at the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony. Just one year later, in 1984, added a blue cape and diamond tiara to her white gown for the Service of Saints Michael and George.

In recent years, the monarch has come to be known for her bright, monochromatic ensembles, ranging from red to yellow to green. She always has her trusty Launer handbag and loafers in tow, as well as the occasional headscarf.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Evolution From Princess to the Longest-Reigning British Monarch

For Prince William and Duchess Kate’s wedding in 2011, the Queen wore a sunshine-yellow suit. Then, when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married in 2018, she opted for an equally as cheery ensemble, wearing a lime green coat over a floral patterned dress.

On Saturday, April 17 though, the Queen traded in her colorful frocks in favor of an all-black outfit for Prince Philip’s funeral. To the ceremony, which took place at St. George’s Chapel, she also wore the Richmond Brooch, a diamond and pearl piece of jewelry, that was first gifted to her on her wedding day.

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 95th birthday, keep scrolling to see her life in photos, from 1926 to 2021.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Evolution From Princess to the Longest-Reigning British Monarch

July 1936
The young future Queen posed with two of her Corgi’s at her home in Piccadilly, London, wearing a frilly white dress.



May 12, 1937
Princess Elizabeth poses with her father, the newly-coronated King George VI, her mother, Queen Elizabeth, and her sister, Princess Margaret, regal in their official coronation robes.



July 1939
A rare photograph of Princess Elizabeth (age 13) in a bathing suit, after winning the Challenge Shield in the annual Children’s Annual Swimming Meeting at the London Bath Club. Her specialty? The breaststroke.



June 22, 1940
While Elizabeth reads in a puff-sleeve dress, her sister and one of her beloved corgis sits perched with her at a window.



October 10, 1940
Princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret broadcasted to the children during World War II. They dressed elegantly for the task in blazers with striped shirts underneath.



Princess Elizabeth, age 19, models her uniform. The future queen held the rank of second subaltern, the equivalent of a second lieutenant, in the Auxiliary Territorial Service of the British Army (i.e. the volunteer women’s branch) during World War II.



The royal family — including Elizabeth, far right — sit for a family portrait. The first child of the Duke and Duchess of York donned a collared dress with buttons up the front.



January 1, 1947
Princess Elizabeth and her love, Philip Mountbatten, the future Duke of Edinburgh, announce their engagement at Buckingham Palace. She looked glamorous in a romantic gown, accessorized with a pearl necklace and a flower-shaped brooch.



Queen Elizabeth II meets Marilyn Monroe wearing a black off-the-shoulder gown, long white gloves, a necklace and of course, her crown.



The Queen and her husband are received at an Indian court in Bo, Sierra Leone. She donned a green dress embroidered with sequins, paired with pearl earrings and her signature matching necklace.



August 22, 1972
The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their four children — Princes Charles, Edward and Andrew, and Princess Anne — pose during their annual summer vacation at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.



March 18, 1980
Queen Elizabeth II meets Meryl Streep at a screening of Kramer vs. Kramer, which Streep co-starred in, at the Odeon in London’s Leicester Square. The royal went all out with the accessories, including a statement-making necklace, a fur wrap and a gilded handbag.



June 11, 1983
Queen Elizabeth, in full uniform, salutes her guard at the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.



July 12, 1984
The Queen, dressed in a white gown with a blue cape and a diamond tiara, enters St. Paul’s Cathedral in London for the Service of Saints Michael and George.



July 28, 1985
Prince Charles kisses his mother’s hand after she awards him a prize at a polo match in Windsor, England. She grinned from ear-to-ear, dressed in an eye-catching red ensemble.



June 14, 1987
The Queen and her grandsons Princes William and Harry watch a polo match from the Royal Box at Guards Polo Club in Windsor, England. She paired her sky blue dress with a blue textured sun hat.



The Queen carried her camera as she snapped photos during the Royal Windsor Horse Show. She wore wide-brimmed glasses, a scarf and a puffy navy jacket.



August 4, 1992
Bold and bright frocks! Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mum — with Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret, Diana and Harry — waves to the crowds outside Clarence House on her 92nd birthday.



May 8, 1995
The Queen, the Queen Mum and Princess Margaret celebrate V-E Day, the anniversary of the day the Allies won World War II, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth stood out in an all-red ensemble.



May 15, 1998
Queen Elizabeth II petted Prince Edward’s Sewbald horse at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. For the sporting affair, she donned a long checkered skirt, a long-sleeved blouse and a beige hat.





May 3, 2000
The Queen poses with Nelson Mandela at Buckingham Palace wearing an unforgettable puff-sleeved gown featuring a gold bow design.

April 9, 2005
Queen Elizabeth II sits for a formal portrait with her family on the day of Prince Charles’ wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. For the special occasion, the Queen of the United Kingdom looked radiant in all-yellow.



November 14, 2006
The Queen meets Daniel Craig wearing a silk gown at the premiere of the 21st James Bond film, Casino Royale, at the Odeon in Leicester Square in London.



April 12, 2006
Proud grandma Queen Elizabeth beams at Prince Harry while inspecting the soldiers at the Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst Military Academy in Surrey, England. She looked fashionable in a monochrome beige ensemble and white gloves.



May 5, 2009
During a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, the Queen cut a piece of cake wearing a pink peacoat and matching hat with black details.



July 12, 2010
The Queen flexed her green thumb by planting a tree during her visit to Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in Scotland. She proved there was no need to dress down for the occasion, wearing a lavender coatdress and matching hat.



April 1, 2011

The Queen is escorted by her grandson Prince William during her visit to RAF Valley in Holyhead, England, where William was stationed as a search and rescue helicopter pilot. She accessorized her red number with chic black accessories.



April 29, 2011

Queen Elizabeth II modeled a sunshine-yellow suit the day of her grandson’s royal wedding to Kate Middleton — now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. This family portrait was taken in the Throne Room inside Buckingham Palace.



May 24, 2011

The Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, welcome the 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama, and his wife, Michelle Obama, to Buckingham Palace for a state banquet. She looked breathtaking in a long-sleeved white gown with intricate embellishments.



June 13, 2012

All smiles! Duchess Kate laughs as the Queen gestures while the pair watch a children’s sporting event at Vernon Park in Nottingham, London. She was warm-weather perfection in a blue coat with a floral dress underneath.



November 13, 2013

Pretty in purple! The Queen and Prince Harry have a conversation as she meets all U.S., U.K. and Commonwealth teams at Buckingham Palace ahead of the Walking With the Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge. Harry participated in the challenge as one of the team leaders.



September 6, 2014

Elizabeth and her son Prince Charles share a laugh while taking in the Braemar Highland Games during the famed Braemar Gathering in Braemar, Scotland.



July 5, 2015

Duchess Kate and the Queen smile at Princess Charlotte in her carriage before entering the church on Sandringham Estate for her great-granddaughter’s christening. She wore a baby-pink coat for the momentous occasion.




The queen poses in a neutral-toned ensemble with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, holding Princess Charlotte in her lap, inside Windsor Castle for a Vanity Fair spread snapped by Annie Leibovitz.



December 8, 2016

A vision in white! Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (in Diana’s favorite tiara) stand and pose inside an opulent room in Buckingham Palace before the annual reception for members of the Diplomatic Corps.



April 20, 2016

The Queen receives a bouquet of flowers from a child outside the Royal Mail Windsor, where she toasted the 500th anniversary of the postal service in a hot pink number.



June 11, 2016

The royal family — with the Queen in the center in neon green — watch from the balcony at Buckingham Palace as planes fly overhead to salute the monarch’s observed 90th birthday.



February 6, 2017

Queen Elizabeth II officially became the first British monarch in history to have reigned for 65 years. To mark the historic occasion, the royal family released a portrait of Her Majesty wearing sapphire jewelry that her late father, King George VI, gave her as a wedding gift when she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.



April 21, 2016

Queen Elizabeth II sits for a royal portrait in a blue dress with the next three gents in line for the throne: Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George, holding his dad’s hand. The portrait was taken to mark her 90th birthday.



October 19, 2017

Pretty in pink! Queen Elizabeth II signed the 70th Anniversary Review Document after The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, commonly known as the ‘Gunners’, 70th Anniversary parade in London.



October 21, 2017

Her Majesty presented jockey Frankie Dettori his prize for winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on ‘Persuasive’ at the QIPCO British Champions Day in Ascot, England.



December 6, 2017

Queen Elizabeth greets the High Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr George Adesola Oguntade and his wife as they present his Letter of Credence during a private audience at Buckingham Palace.



December 13, 2017

After recording her Christmas Day broadcast to the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II posed in a white dress at the desk in the 1844 Room in Buckingham Palace. She concluded her speech, “Whatever your own experiences this year; wherever and however you are watching, I wish you a peaceful and very happy Christmas.”



May 19, 2018

The Queen posed with members of the royal family on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding day. Her majesty looks ever so charming in a lime green coat over a floral patterned dress and a matching hat.



May 21, 2018

Her majesty blended in with the roses at the Peter Beale flower display at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, England. She was styled in a pink coat with white gloves — the perfect combination to be amongst the prettiest flowers.



July 6, 2018

The Queen appeared with her grandson Prince William for the Order of the Thistle Service at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh wearing traditional matching garb.



October 12, 2018

To watch her granddaughter Princess Eugenie tie the knot with Jack Brooksbank at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, the monarch sported an ice blue Angela Kelly coat with gold buttons and a matching flower-adorned hat by the designer. She accessorized with white gloves, a black top-handle bag and block heels.



November 10, 2018

While we’re used to seeing Her Majesty in bright and pastel coat dresses, she opted for a black tie-worthy sparkly LBD and patterned shawl at the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London.



May 22, 2019

When visiting a Sainsbury’s pop-up to celebrate the supermarket chain’s 150th anniversary, the British queen looked as regal as ever in a beautiful teal tweed jacket with a matching hat and white gloves



December 20, 2018

The monarch arrived in King’s Lynn, England, by train en route to Sandringham House, where she’ll be spending the Christmas holiday, in a camel button-down coat and black accessories, but it was the Burberry headscarf wrapped around her coif that had Us rethinking our winter hat game.



March 19, 2019

The royal was pretty in pink while visiting King’s College in London with Duchess Kate. There, the pair formally opened Bush House, a new education and learning facilities on the Strand Campus. For the event, Her Heigness complemented her pastel coat and hat with her go-to black loafers, handbag and gloves.



April 21, 2019

Celebrating her 93rd birthday and Easter at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, the monarch looked vibrant in a robin’s egg blue coat that she layered over a fuchsia sheath.



May 8, 2019

When meeting her grandson Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, born on May 6, the British monarch looked like the cutest (and chicest!) little grandma in her blue cardigan and plaid bottoms.



May 18, 2019

One year after Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, the Queen and members of the royal family gathered once again at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England for the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston. Accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the Queen wore a Stewart Parvin pink tweed coat over a floral printed silk dress and topped her look with a matching Rachel Trevor Morgan hat adorned with flowers. Lady Gabriella is the daughter of one of the monarch’s cousins, Prince Michael of Kent, and is 52nd in line to the British throne.



May 29, 2019

The queen attended the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in a white-trimmed pastel pink coat and matching flower-adorned hat. But it was the practical, pink-accented umbrella she carried as a hedge against the dreary London weather that stole the show.



June 3, 2019

To greet President Trump at Buckingham Palace for his three-day state visit, the monarch opted to wear a mint green Stewart Parvin coat, a matching hat and the famous (and stunning) Cambridge Emerald Brooch.



June 3, 2019

Before the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, the British queen posed in a white embellished gown with a necklace that matched her ruby crown.



June 5, 2019

Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, in Portsmouth, England, the Royal shared a sweet message of hope and freedom wearing a candy-pink feather hat and matching coat with a feminine floral print blouse underneath. She paired the ensemble with white gloves, pearl earrings, a triple-strand pearl necklace and one of her many brooches.



June 8, 2019

The Queen showed up in style for the nationwide celebration of her 93rd birthday at Trooping the Colour in London. The royal arrived via carriage in a patterned cream ensemble with a matching hat and white gloves. She accessorized with pearl earrings and black loafer heels.



June 17, 2019

Joining other members of the Order of the Garter Day — which takes place every June — the British queen wore her traditional long black cape, decorated with ribbons, tassels and medallions.



June 18, 2019

The Queen of England attended the Royal Ascot in a periwinkle coat, with a matching hat that featured 3-D flowers. She kept the look clean and proper accessorizing with white gloves, a small broach and pearl jewelry.



June 19, 2019

While attending the second day of the Royal Ascot, the British monarch opted for a pale blue coat with a floral dress that peaked out underneath. The frock seemed to match the various purple flowers secured to her hat. But her best accessory might have been the matching umbrella — a rainy day must-have she always has custom made when necessary.


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