Queen Elizabeth II is the only woman in the history of the British monarchy to serve in the army, and the only head of state of have served during WWII. Here are the pictures that prove it.
When people ask me who my favorite British royal is, I always answer the same thing: how dare you?
Back when the war broke out in 1939, Elizabeth was only a 14-year-old princess. After her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated to the throne three years prior, her father became King George VI, which meant she had become heir presumptive. She could do little to stop Hitler from bombing the hell out of the British Isles and Europe.
Still, it was important for her to address the British people, so at fourteen and with her sister at her side, Princess Elizabeth gave her first radio broadcast. She stated: "We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying, too, to bear our share of the danger and sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well.” Now that’s a statement.
The war went on for several years, so when she turned 18, in spite of her father’s reluctance, Princess Elizabeth enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, where many people actively served as radio operators, anti-aircraft gunners, and spotlight operators, among others. As part of the ATS, she was trained as a mechanic in London, and learned to drive military trucks as well.
She’s the only head of state to have served in World War II and the only woman from the British royal family to ever serve in the Armed Forces.
It might not have been a frontline position, but her job wasn’t symbolic either. She took her role very seriously and took pride in serving the nation and the world against the fascist threat. Two years later, she would marry Lord Philip Mountbatten, and five years after that she would become the Queen we all venerate and love.