Queen Elizabeth 2nd's long reign was marked by a strong sense of duty and determination to dedicate her life to the British throne and to her people.

For many, she became the only constant reference in a world of rapid change and declining

British influence. During this period, society underwent major transformations and the role of the monarchy itself was questioned.

Her success in maintaining the monarchy through such a turbulent period was all the more

remarkable considering that, at the time of her birth, no one predicted that her destiny would be to take the throne.

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born on April 21, 1926, in the family home in Berkeley Square in London.

She was the eldest daughter of Albert, Duke of York, the second son of George the 5th and his duchess, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

Both Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret Rose, born in 1930, were home-schooled

and raised in a loving family environment. Elizabeth was extremely close to her father and grandfather, George the 5th.

At the age of six, Elizabeth told her riding instructor that she wanted to become a "country lady with lots of horses and dogs."