Queen Elizabeth II May Have Been the Monarchy’s Leader, but at Home, Someone Else Made All the Decisions

Queen Elizabeth II had an extraordinary reign over the United Kingdom for 70 years. This position of authority placed her as the head of state and the monarchy. Some of her duties included the opening of each new session of Parliament, granting legislation, and approving Orders and Proclamations through the Privy Council. However, at home, someone else made all the decisions.

Queen Elizabeth II may have reigned over the monarchy but at home, someone else made all the decisions.
Queen Elizabeth II | Victoria Jones/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Elizabeth was made the monarchy’s head in 1954

Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne following her father, King George VI’s death on Feb. 6, 1952. Elizabeth, who was just 25 years old, was next in the line of the monarchy’s succession. She was coronated on June 2, 1953, a little over one year later.

Elizabeth was not originally in line to be queen. Her father, King George VI, became king only after his older brother King Edward VIII abdicated to marry a divorced American woman, Wallis Simpson, placing Elizabeth next in line to succeed her father. 

Married to Philip Mountbatten since Nov. 20, 1947, the couple had two children before Elizabeth’s coronation. Charles was born in 1948, Anne in 1950, Andrew in 1960, and Edward in 1964.

Another person made all the decisions at home for the queen

Queen Elizabeth was put in the unique position of putting her duty to the commonwealth ahead of her children. Therefore, her husband, Prince Philip, made all the family decisions for the reigning monarch at home.

“When Elizabeth became Queen on the death of her father, her dedication to her duties meant even less time for her children,” the queen’s official biographer Sally Bedell Smith wrote in the book Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life.

“She relied increasingly on her husband to make the major family decisions, and she depended on the nannies to supervise the daily lives.”

Queen Elizabeth had to balance motherhood and the monarchy

A photograph of the royal family in 1960.
The royal family photographed in 1960 | Bettmann/Getty Images

For Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward, sharing a mother with the commonwealth was the reality of their position. Readers Digest reported that while her two eldest children, Charles and Anne, were small, Elizabeth was learning to navigate royal leadership.

At one point, Elizabeth was away from her children for over six months in 1953. When Charles was three years old, Anne was just a toddler, Elizabeth visited 13 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda, Jamaica, and Uganda.

The children were left home in the care of nannies who tended to their daily needs. Elizabeth and Philip regularly saw their children after breakfast, during teatime, and during their baths and bedtime.

It “was very difficult for her to blend that role of wife and mother and head of state. She didn’t have any role models,” the Queen’s biographer Sally Bedell Smith said to People Magazine.

Only during her later pregnancies with Princes Andrew and Edward could she relax and enjoy motherhood, said Readers Digest.

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