The life story of Queen Elizabeth II. Where the popular Netflix series “The Crown” dramatized her life, Elizabeth is the real thing - a decade by decade, uniquely personal picture of the the longest reigning monarch in British history.

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The Passionate Eye

Join us on CBC for an ‘Elizabeth’ on December 28 for an all-day marathon starting at 10 am.

Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch in British history, but it came as a surprise to many. She wasn’t born in line for the crown, and at age ten her life was turned upside down when her uncle Edward VIII abdicated, catapulting her into the position of heir to one of the world’s great empires. At the age of 21, she broadcast to the people of Britain and the Commonwealth that “my whole life shall be devoted to your service.” It was a pledge she renewed 60 years later at her Diamond Jubilee.

During her reign she has experienced family tragedy and triumph, often having to choose between supporting her family and doing her duty as monarch. She has appointed 13 Prime Ministers, while steadfastly remaining above the political fray. She’s transformed the British Empire into the new Commonwealth of diverse and independent nations.

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This eight-part series interviews the Queen’s Prime Ministers, members of the Royal Household and closest friends, to build a uniquely personal picture of Elizabeth, the woman, the mother, the Queen. Watch the full series online now.


When her uncle Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, Elizabeth, aged 10, became heir to the throne. Her grandmother insisted she be given lessons to prepare for the role that awaited her - as Queen. When her father died in 1952, she was the wife of a naval officer, Prince Philip of Greece, and a mother of two. She was the youngest monarch to ascend to the throne in 100 years. Watch online now.


The televised Coronation of the Queen was at first controversial, but her dignity and calmness made the event a world-wide success. The Queen and Philip embarked on a world tour where she was met with enthusiasm everywhere she went. The Queen’s faced Winston Churchill’s stroke and retirement, and the Suez Crisis. And her role and resolve were tested when the palace intervened in her sister Margaret’s marriage plans. Watch online now.


Criticised for being remote and reserved, the Queen embraced modern technology and gave her first-ever televised Christmas broadcast in 1957. In the 60s, she started to rid the monarchy of its archaic protocols. A mining disaster on home soil taught lessons about the importance of her support and sympathy. A documentary, “The Royal Family,” was a massive success, but some thought it went too far in observing the Queen’s family life. Watch online now.


In the face of the economic and social uncertainty of 1970s Britain, the Queen’s wealth came under scrutiny. Scandals continued to follow her sister Margaret who, now divorced, was photographed in the company of young men. To try to stabilize the monarchy, the Queen encouraged Prince Charles to find a wife to ensure the future of the Windsor dynasty. Watch online now.


The wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981 marked the beginning of a golden age for the Queen and the monarchy. Most of the 1980’s saw abundant support for the Queen and her children. The Queen’s awkward relationship with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher posed some challenges, but the two managed to navigate the diplomatic challenges of the Falklands conflict. Watch online now.


The 1990s brought relentless public criticism and painful private tragedy to the Queen. She dubbed 1992 her ‘Annus Horribilis’ in which she saw the collapse of 3 of her children’s marriages, as well as the devastating destruction of Windsor Castle. The death of Princess Diana presented the Queen with the gravest challenge - as she focused on protecting her grieving grandsons, the public interpreted the Queen’s silence as lack of feeling. Watch online now.


Still battling negative public opinion, the Queen faced a crisis in Australia where the country had plans to remove her and held a referendum. In 2002, the Queen’s younger sister Princess Margaret died, followed by the death of the Queen’s Mother mother just six weeks later.The Palace made plans to modernize the monarchy as the Queen celebrated her Golden Jubilee. Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles finally married in 2005. Watch online now.


In 2012, The Queen marked her Diamond Jubilee - only the second monarch to have ever achieved that milestone. In this decade she undertook an extraordinary state visit to the Republic of Ireland, and her political neutrality was tested through both the Scottish referendum and the Brexit vote. As she reaches her 90s, the Queen continues to reign, but increasingly she is delegating her duties to her heir, Prince Charles, and his children. Watch online now.

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