Diamond Jubilee: Queen's Accession Day Marks 60 Years Of Rule
After 60 years of loyal service to the nation and Commonwealth, the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee on Monday.
For a remarkable six decades she has remained a steadfast figure for the British public as head of state.
The sovereign has come to represent stability and continuity with her many years on the throne earning her the respect of leaders across the world.
February 6 - Accession Day - will be celebrated simply by a visit to King's Lynn Town Hall and the nearby Dersingham Infant and Nursery School.
Crowds are expected to gather despite the cold conditions to greet the Queen who will share the celebrations of one of the most important days of her reign with ordinary people.
The other side of the Queen is represented by two official Diamond Jubilee photographs released today, showing the monarch looking relaxed yet regal, dressed in a lavish gown with glittering jewels.
Her 60 years as queen will be marked by a series of regional, national and international events during 2012, culminating in a four-day long Bank Holiday weekend in June.
A spectacular River Thames pageant featuring a 1,000-strong flotilla and a St Paul's Cathedral service of thanksgiving are some of the highlights of the weekend.
Historians are likely to see the Queen as having a foot in both the past - with its traditions and customs - and the present - with which she still consciously engages.
6 February, 1952: Princess Elizabeth walks through the Kenya sunshine with Sir Philip Mitchell, Governor of Kenya, at Sagana Lodge, Nyeri, shortly before the death of her father King George VI
5 February, 2012: Queen Elizabeth II attends the church of St Peter and St Paul at West Newton, Norfolk
She also has a personal side; as her family's matriarch she is wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to those closest to her.
Britain's head of state already has the status of being the longest serving monarch after Queen Victoria.
And, like her great-great-grandmother, who reigned for more than 63 years, her many years on the throne have helped define an era.
When she acceded to the throne as a young woman following the death of her father, George VI, on February 6 1952, the country was almost unrecognisable from today.
Britain was still gripped by rationing and the country bore the scars of six years of war.
Five years earlier, during a visit to South Africa, on her 21st birthday - 21 April - she had vowed to serve the Commonwealth.
She said: "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."
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England is shown in the state coach as she leaves Buckingham Palace for the Houses of Parliament in London, England, on 4 November, 1952
Queen Elizabeth II rides in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace following the marriage of Their Royal Highnesses Prince William Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey in London
The Queen, now in her 85th year, has remained true to her pledge and dedicated herself to the nation and beyond.
Part of her importance is remaining a constant in a changing world and being a point of reference for politicians and public alike.
The historian and political biographer Ben Pimlott stated in his biography of her: "'The Queen's strength', as one of her aides, a friend for half a century, remarks, 'is that she doesn't change very much'."
Over the decades Britain has undergone major transformations from technological advances like computers and supersonic flight to developments in society and the political landscape.
During her reign she has seen 11 prime ministers come and go with David Cameron her 12th, while Barack Obama is the 12th US president to hold office over the same period.
The Queen endured her "annus horribilis" in 1992, the year the Prince of Wales separated from Diana, the Duke of York split from Sarah, and the Princess Royal divorced Captain Mark Phillips.
And she faced the criticisms that followed the death of Diana in 1997 when she was accused of remaining too long in Balmoral rather than returning to London - the focus of public grief.
But her Golden Jubilee in 2002 was a momentous occasion and showed there was still a strong feeling of support for the Queen.
Public affection for the monarchy has been boosted over the past year following the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the interest Catherine has generated in the royals.
The Diamond Jubilee is likely to be a high-water mark in the life of a woman who became Queen as a young woman and remained true to her ideals.