In 1946 Elizabeth became engaged to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten – later Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. But her father demanded that news of their engagement not be made public until after she turned 21.
For her birthday, she gave a speech during a tour of South Africa which was broadcast by radio throughout the Commonwealth. “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether long or short, will be devoted to your service and to the service of our great Imperial family to which we all belong,” she said.
The couple married in a relatively simple ceremony at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. Elizabeth had to collect dress coupons for her dress as Britain was still recovering from the war.
They had their first child, and Elizabeth’s heir apparent, Charles – the future Prince of Wales – on November 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace. Their second child, Anne, was born in 1950.
While Philip was stationed in Malta on naval duty, Princess Elizabeth visited him four times. However, after King George was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1951 and underwent surgery to delete part out of her lung, Elizabeth had to take on more and more royal duties.
On February 6, 1952, while visiting rural Kenya, Elizabeth learned from her husband that her father had died, which meant her own accession to the throne. Her tour was scrapped and the young woman who flew to East Africa as a princess returned to Britain as a queen.