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These Photos of Queen Elizabeth’s Duchess Days Capture Her Life Before She Was Queen

Today marks the 95th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, long may she reign. From a young age, the Queen — once Princess Elizabeth — knew her destiny in the eyes of the people, and her near-century of life in photos shows how wholly she committed her life to royal duty. The royal’s moment of celebration comes, of course, on the heels of a moment of sorrow: the funeral of Her Majesty’s late husband late husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who lived to the age of 99. Queen Elizabeth II has enjoyed the longest reign of any monarch in British history, and still has not indicated she intends to pass over the throne to heir Prince Charles anytime soon. And indeed, as we look back at her years rising through the royal ranks, it’s hard to remember her as anything but the Queen.

For her birthday, the monarch shared a rare message with the public thanking them for their words of support amid Prince Philip’s passing.

“I have, on the occasion of my 95th birthday today, received many messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate,” she wrote. “While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world.”

“My family and I would like to thank you all for the support and kindness shown to us in recent days,” she continued. “We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life.”

If Prince Philip touched countless lives, then Queen Elizabeth II touched countless more. These photos of Elizabeth over the years showcase a side to the monarch you may have forgotten.

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