Queen Elizabeth II may be Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, but she’s never let her hard-earned expertise lull her into complacency. During her more than 64 years on the throne, she’s constantly changed with the times, learning to use new technology, evolving with the needs of her people and maintaining a visible and comforting presence.
“I think I speak for my generation when I say that the example and continuity provided by the Queen is not only very rare among leaders but a great source of pride and reassurance,” says grandson Prince William. “Time and again, quietly and modestly, the Queen has shown us all that we can confidently embrace the future without compromising the things that are important.”
Click through our gallery to see how one extraordinary young woman guided a nation, and an age-old institution, into an unfamiliar new world, thanks to her unbeatable combination of social awareness, compromise and devotion to duty.