Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on April 21 1926 (she turns 87 today!). She was baptised by the Anglican Archbishop of York, Cosmo Gordon Lang, in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace on 29 May, and named Elizabeth after her mother, Alexandra after George V’s mother, who had died six months earlier, and Mary after her paternal grandmother. Her close family called her “Lilibet”. George V cherished his granddaughter, and during his serious illness in 1929 her regular visits were credited in the popular press and by later biographers with raising his spirits and aiding his recovery. Elizabeth’s only sibling, Princess Margaret, was four years younger. The two princesses were educated at home under the supervision of their mother and their governess, Marion Crawford, who was casually known as “Crawfie”. Lessons concentrated on history, language, literature and music. To the dismay of the royal family, in 1950 Crawford published a biography of Elizabeth and Margaret’s childhood years entitled The Little Princesses. The book describes Elizabeth’s love of horses and dogs, her orderliness and her attitude of responsibility. Others echoed such observations: Winston Churchill described Elizabeth when she was two as “a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.” Her cousin Margaret Rhodes described her as “a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved”.
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