February 6, 1952 was the day that changed Queen Elizabeth’s life forever: her father, King George VI, suddenly died at their Norfolk home of Sandringham. With his passing came a transfer of power to his daughter. She was only 25 years old.
68 years later, Queen Elizabeth II has become the longest reigning British monarch in history, surpassing her great-grandmother Queen Victoria. (There’s a chance she might set a world record: come May 2024, she’ll be on the throne longer than any other Queen or King in history.) She’s fully lived up to the promise she broadcasted to the British Commonwealth on her 21st birthday: “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
This November, Taschen will publish Her Majesty, a photographic journey through Elizabeth’s existence in both the public and private spheres. Early pages cover her as a young child: on her christening, swaddled in the Honiton gown; as a teenager happily with a corgi. Later entries chronicle her sprawling, even tumultuous time in Buckingham Palace (like a frame of her televised address after the death of Princess Diana). But the bulk of the book chronicles the Queen in the 1950s and 1960s as she grappled with, and grew into, her power. Those prove to be the most fascinating: recent photographs of the Queen are likely well-known to royal watchers already. (Say, Annie Leibovitz’s portraits of the Queen, which very few missed when it was published by Vanity Fair in 2016.) But the moments from early in her reign, taken before the internet and its 24/7 news cycle existed, possess a beautiful quality of rareness and historical significance: one shows the Queen making her way down a receiving line while Marilyn Monroe anxiously awaits her presence, while another shows her surrounded by male clergy on her coronation day.
Ahead of the book’s release, take a glimpse at some of the stunning portraits from the 1950s and 1960s—and see some of the monarch’s life milestones in the process.