The Queen’s historic 70-year reign has stretched from the post-war years through a new millennium and into a radically altered 21st century.
Elizabeth II has served as a symbol of stability as the world has changed in countless social, cultural, political and technological ways over the intervening decades.
Seventy images of significant events, striking news stories and major milestones from each of the 70 years of the Queen’s reign, compiled by the PA news agency to mark the Platinum Jubilee, reflect the rate of immense change during the second Elizabethan era.
Photos range from the first flight of Concorde in 1968 to the Brixton riots of 1981, the Brexit referendum of 2016, and the funeral of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, the 13-year-old boy who died alone in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
Food rationing was still in place when the young 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne in 1952, seven years after the end of the Second World War.
Since then, man has landed on the moon, Britain had its first woman prime minister, and the internet was invented.
The Queen has seen the world experience many conflicts, ceasefires, atrocities and natural disasters, but also watched society grow, alter and evolve.
Here are some of the milestones and events of the Queen’s reign:
1952: George VI dies and Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen. Flood devastates the Devon village of Lynmouth. Mau Mau rising in Kenya. More than 110 people are killed in a three-train collision at Harrow and Wealdstone station.
1953: Sweet rationing ends in Britain. Queen Mary dies. Everest conquered on eve of the coronation.
1954: Study links cancer to smoking. Crash grounds BOAC’s Comet aircraft. French defeated at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. Elvis releases his first record. Roger Bannister breaks the four-minute mile record. Food rationing ends completely in UK.
1955: Cyprus goes on strike against British rule. Sir Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister due to his failing health. Warsaw Pact signed by the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies. Princess Margaret calls off plans to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend.
1956: Hungarian uprising and Suez crisis. Teddy Boys rock around the clock. Prince Rainier III of Monaco marries American film actress Grace Kelly.
1957: Prime Minister Harold Macmillan tells a Tory rally “most of our people have never had it so good”. Treaty of Rome sets up European Economic Community. Russians launch the Sputnik satellite and also send the first animal into space – a dog called Laika.
1958: Race riots flare in Notting Hill. Manchester United players die in Munich air crash.
1959: The Mini car makes its first appearance and the M1 motorway opens.
1960: Macmillan’s Wind Of Change speech. Princess Margaret marries Tony Armstrong-Jones.
1961: John F. Kennedy succeeds Dwight D. Eisenhower as US president. Berlin Wall rises. Soviet Union puts first man, Yuri Gagarin, into space.
1962: US spaceman John Glenn orbits the Earth. The Cuban Missile crisis is resolved.
1963: Lord Beeching wields axe on British Rail. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. Kennedy assassination. Profumo scandal. Great Train Robbery. One of the coldest, snowiest winters on record.
1964: Beatlemania grips UK and US. Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston. Mary Quant pronounces Paris fashion “out of date”.
1965: Rhodesia declares independence. US bombs North Vietnam. Britain appoints its first woman High Court judge.
1966: Swinging London revolves around Carnaby Street and Kings Road. Queen Mother undergoes major abdominal surgery. England win the World Cup. Aberfan disaster in Wales.
1967: Breathalyser introduced. Arab-Israeli War. Nigerian Civil War. Abortion and homosexuality are legalised.
1968: Enoch Powell makes “rivers of blood” speech. Ulster troubles erupt with civil rights protests.
1969: Death penalty for murder permanently abolished in Britain. Prince of Wales’s Investiture at Caernarvon. British troops sent to Northern Ireland. American Neil Armstrong becomes first man to walk on the Moon. Woodstock music festival.
1970: Voting age cut from 21 to 18. North Sea oil fields discovered. First jumbo jet lands at Heathrow. Edward Heath wins election for the Tories. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi takes over as leader of Libya.
1971: British entry into EEC agreed. Decimalised currency launched in the UK. Angry Brigade bombs Employment Secretary’s home.
1972: Miners’ strike and power crisis – state of emergency declared. Industrial Relations Act disputes. Bloody Sunday. Duke of Windsor dies. First home video game system is released.
1973: Britain joins EEC. Princess Royal marries Captain Mark Phillips.
1974: Edward Heath loses narrowly to Harold Wilson, who wins second general election. US president Richard Nixon resigns over the Watergate affair.
1975: Margaret Thatcher becomes Conservative Party leader. Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts. End of Vietnam War.
1976: James Callaghan replaces Wilson at No 10. One of the hottest summers on record. Concorde begins commercial flights.
1977: Lib-Lab pact. Grunwick picket clashes. Punk rock. Silver Jubilee. The Queen becomes a grandmother. Red Rum wins Grand National for a record third time.
1978: Rhodesia settlement. Anna Ford becomes ITN’s first prime-time woman newsreader. Red Brigades kidnap former Italian premier Aldo Moro. World’s first test tube baby Louise Brown born in Oldham. Winter Of Discontent strikes.
1979: Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first woman prime minister. Queen’s art adviser Anthony Blunt exposed as Russian spy. Fall of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. Islamic revolutionaries come to power in Iran.
1980: SAS storm Iranian Embassy. Runners Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe win Olympic gold.
1981: Brixton riots. Prince of Wales marries Lady Diana Spencer. Unemployment reaches 2.5 million. Britain in recession. The launch of the first space shuttle – Columbia.
1982: Falklands War – Prince Andrew is among those serving in the forces. Intruder in Queen’s bedroom. Pope visits Britain. King Henry VIII’s Mary Rose raised in the Solent. Prince William born. Economic recession.
1983: US president Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars speech. Russians shoot down Korean jetliner.
1984: IRA bombs Grand Hotel, Brighton. Indira Gandhi assassinated. Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia appeal. Miners’ strikes. Prince Harry born.
1985: Bradford City football stadium fire kills 56. Heysel stadium riot kills 39. Live Aid concert held to raise money for Ethiopian famine.
1986: Funeral of Duchess of Windsor at Frogmore. Prince Andrew marries Sarah Ferguson.
1987: Zeebrugge disaster. The Great Storm sweeps through southern England. IRA bombs Enniskillen Remembrance Day parade. Hungerford massacre. King’s Cross fire.
1988: Piper Alpha oil platform disaster. Lockerbie jumbo jet bombing. Government loses Spycatcher legal battle. Professor Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is published.
1989: Hillsborough disaster. Berlin Wall falls. Tiananmen Square massacre. Author Salman Rushdie goes into hiding. Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web.
1990: Mrs Thatcher resigns after a leadership contest. John Major becomes prime minister. Iraq invades Kuwait. Nelson Mandela is released from prison. Poll tax riots.
1991: Allies launch Operation Desert Storm in Gulf War against Iraq. Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev resigns. Birmingham Six freed after 16 years in jail. Hostage Terry Waite is freed after five years of captivity in Beirut.
1992: The Queen’s “annus horribilis” – Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips divorce, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of York separate, Windsor Castle goes up in flames. Black Wednesday – the day Britain crashed out of the ERM. The break up of Yugoslavia.
1993: Publication of Prince of Wales’s intimate talk with Camilla Parker Bowles. IRA bomb Warrington. Buckingham Palace opens to the public. Stephen Lawrence is stabbed to death in Eltham, south-east London.
1994: Labour leader John Smith dies. Queen and French president Francois Mitterrand open Channel Tunnel. 50th anniversary of D-Day. Prince of Wales admits adultery in TV documentary. IRA ceasefire. Queen visits Russia. Genocide in Rwanda. Age of consent for gay men reduced to 18.
1995: Official Aids cases pass one million mark. Barings Bank collapses. Terrorist gas attacks panic Tokyo and Yokohama. VE Day and VJ Day commemorated. Princess of Wales’s Panorama interview.
1996: Duke and Duchess of York divorce. Prince and Princess of Wales divorce. Mid-air crash in India kills more than 350. Fire in Channel Tunnel. Ban on exports of British beef amid BSE crisis.
1997: New Labour under Tony Blair beat Conservatives, ending 18 years of Tory rule. Royal Yacht Britannia decommissioned. Diana, Princess of Wales dies in Paris car crash. Scotland and Wales vote for devolution. Dolly the sheep cloned. Handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China.
1998: War breaks out in Europe as a Nato coalition attacks Yugoslavia. Digital TV launched. Operation Desert Fox in Iraq. Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. Omagh bombing.
1999: Birth of single European currency, the euro. Prince Edward marries Sophie Rhys-Jones.
2000: A new millennium and the Queen Mother’s 100th year. British rower Steve Redgrave makes Olympic history by winning his fifth consecutive gold medal. George W Bush becomes US president.
2001: September 11 terrorist attacks. Foot and mouth outbreak in UK. First space tourist. Britain joins US in strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Age of consent for gay men reduced to 16.
2002: The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret die. Twelve European Union countries adopt the euro.
2003: Britain and the US go to war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
2004: Double Olympic gold for Kelly Holmes in 800m and 1,500m in Athens. Asian tsunami kills more than 100,000.
2005: Pope John Paul II dies and is succeeded by Pope Benedict XVI. The Prince of Wales marries Camilla Parker Bowles. London wins 2012 Olympics bid. July 7 terror attacks in London. Civil partnerships give same-sex couples legal rights.
2006: The former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is hanged in Baghdad. Lebanon War.
2007: Gordon Brown replaces Tony Blair as Prime Minister. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary.
2008: Jury return a verdict of unlawful killing in inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. UK enters a recession following the financial crisis. Barack Obama elected to become the first black US president.
2009: Singer Michael Jackson dies. Swine flu pandemic. MPs’ expenses scandal.
2010: David Cameron becomes prime minister leading a Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition. The Queen becomes a great-grandmother for the first time when Savannah Phillips is born. Volcanic ash cloud blowing in from Iceland grounds flights. Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is released from house arrest.
2011: Middle East uprising. Japanese tsunami. Nato air raids on Libya. Prince William marries Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey. Queen visits Ireland. The summer riots.
2012: The Queen marks her Diamond Jubilee. London 2012 Olympics. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announce they are expecting a baby.
2013: Continuing civil war in Syria. Pope Benedict XVI resigns. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis. Baroness Thatcher and Nelson Mandela die. Prince George of Cambridge is born.
2014: Major flooding in England and Wales. The first same-sex wedding takes place after gay marriage becomes legal in England and Wales. Crisis in Iraq and Syria over the Islamic State militant group. Scotland votes No to independence. Ukraine crisis. Ebola epidemic.
2015: Attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. Princess Charlotte of Cambridge born. Conservatives win majority in general election. Migrant crisis. Queen becomes Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. Terror attacks in Paris, including at the Bataclan concert hall.
2016: Shooting at gay nightclub in Orlando. Queen celebrates her 90th birthday. British astronaut Tim Peake returns to Earth after a six-month mission on the ISS. The UK votes for Brexit in referendum on the EU. Theresa May becomes PM. Queen becomes world’s longest-reigning, still-serving monarch after the death of the king of Thailand.
2017: US president Donald Trump takes office. Queen reaches her Sapphire Jubilee – 65 years on the throne. Manchester Arena bombing. Early election. Grenfell Tower fire. Queen and Philip’s platinum wedding anniversary.
2018: Diplomatic row breaks out with Russia over poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal. Prince Louis of Cambridge born. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding.
2019: Notre Dame fire. Terrorist attack in Sri Lanka. Archie Mountbatten-Windsor born. Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK. England win the Cricket World Cup. Theresa May resigns. Boris Johnson becomes PM. Duke of York steps down from royal duties amid Epstein scandal.
2020: Megxit – Harry and Meghan quit royal life. Brexit – the UK leaves the EU. Coronavirus pandemic. Lockdown in the UK. Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in the US. Lebanon blast.
2021: Joe Biden becomes US president. The Covid-19 crisis continues. Harry and Meghan accuse the royal family of racism. Death of the Duke of Edinburgh. Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor born. Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Barbados becomes a republic.
2022: Duke of York stops using his HRH style as he faces US civil sexual assault trial. Boris Johnson and Downing Street’s lockdown parties scandal.