6 February 1952: After a long illness, King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland died in his sleep at the royal estate at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, the oldest of the king’s two daughters and next in line to succeed him, was at the Royal hunting lodge in Kenya at the time of her father’s death. She returned to Britain immediately upon receiving the news, although a thunderstorm delayed the departure of her plane.
Elizabeth formally proclaimed herself Queen and Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith at a meeting at St James’ Palace two days later on 8 February at the age of 25. She was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953, aged 27.
“I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.”Queen Elizabeth II, Coronation Day speech, June 1953