Elizabeth II, eldest daughter of Albert, Duke of York ( later George VI ) and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, was born in London on 21st April, 1926 at 17, Bruton Street, Mayfair, the London home of her maternal grandparents, Claud, Earl of Strathmore and Nina Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck. In accordance with the accepted custom since the birth of James II's son, the Catholic Old Pretender, in 1688, the Home Secretary was present.
The new arrival was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Gordon Lang. Mary was the name of her grandmother, Mary of Teck and Alexandra that of her great-grandmother, the beautiful Alexandra of Denmark.
The baby Elizabeth was not in the direct line of succession and it was at the time assumed that her father's older brother the charismatic and popular David, Prince of Wales, would marry and produce children eventually. The York family was completed on the birth of a second daughter, Princess Margaret Rose on 1st August, 1930 at Glamis Castle in Angus, Scotland. Elizabeth was a great favourite with her paternal grandparents, George V and Queen Mary, the King, in particular, doted on Lilibet, as she was known in the family, although inclined to be gruff with others, he was excessively fond of her. She experienced a secluded childhood and was educated by a Scottish governess, Miss Crawford, within palace walls and later by the Provost of Eton.
On the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, in 1936, her father unexpectedly succeeded to the throne as George VI.
During the Second World War, Elizabeth was allowed by her parents to be called up for national service with the A.T.S, her first experience of being able to mix with ordinary girls. She served as Second Lieutenant Elizabeth Windsor. On VE night in 1945, Elizabeth and Margaret were allowed to mingle with the celebrating crowds outside Buckingham Palace, an experience both thoroughly enjoyed and for once were not recognised as they joined in the spirited revelries with enthusiasm.
As a teenager the Princess Elizabeth began to assume some official royal engagements. On the occasion of her twenty-first birthday she made a speech dedicating her life to the service of her future subjects.