Her dream was to live in the country surrounded bychildren, dogs and horses. But Elizabeth did her duty, the young princess pledging before her people that she woulddedicate her whole life to the service of Britain and the Commonwealth. She hoped thatthat day would be a long way off.
It was not to be. Only twenty-five when she becameQueen after the premature death of her father, King George Vl, Elizabeth has become thestuff of superlatives: the longest reigning, most travelled and, for a shy woman, theQueen who has shaken more hands and made more small talk than any other monarchin history. She has been seen and believed by millions, either in person, on television orfilm.
Elizabeth was set firmly on the road to becoming sovereign because of the D word -divorce. In 1936, her uncle David, King Edward VIII, wanted to marry a twice-divorcedAmerican, Wallis Simpson. When he couldn't he abdicated.
Since that national trauma,divorce and the fall-out from divorce has shaped her reign. She has witnessed her sisterMargaret, three of her children and several grandchildren divorce. And she has lived longenough to see the wheel turn full circle, watching as another American divorcee, MeghanMarkle, walked down the aisle with her grandson Prince Harry.
While her reign has been defined by divorce, her private life has been moulded by anirascible husband, an extravagant mother and a querulous eldest son. In the winter of herreign she refereed a war between two of her grandsons, brothers William and Harry whowere once inseparable friends. As she celebrates her platinum anniversary, the firstmonarch to reign for seventy years, she has, during a once in a lifetime pandemic,become the reassuring face of hope and optimism, the grandmother to the nation.