Special Report

The Most Important Event in the Life of Queen Elizabeth in Every Year of Her Reign

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> Event: Bloody Sunday

On January 30, 1972, British soldiers shot 26 unarmed citizens who were participating in a protest in the Northern Irish city of Derry against the practice of internment without trial by the British government. Of those wounded, 13 died at the scene and one more succumbed later to his injuries. Bloody Sunday was one of the most significant events of The Troubles because so many civilians were killed by state forces, in the presence of numerous witnesses and press. At the end of 1972, Queen Elizabeth awarded one of the key commanding British officers, Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford, the Order of the British Empire.

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> Event: Entry of the U.K. into the European Economic Community

On its third try and 10 years after it first attempted to become part of the organization’s predecessor, the U.K. successfully joined the European Economic Community, with the Queen’s assent. The EEC, founded in 1957, was created to eliminate trade barriers and create a common trade policy across member states. It also aimed to defuse tensions between nations following World War II by making them economically interdependent. After only two years, a new British government wanted to renegotiate its position in the EEC and held a public referendum. British citizens voted to remain in the Community.

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> Event: Dissolution of parliament and victory of Harold Wilson

On February 7, 1974, Prime Minister Edward Heath asked Queen Elizabeth to dissolve parliament, allowing for general elections on February 28. Neither the Labour nor Conservative party won an absolute majority and control of the government — a situation known as a hung parliament. A second election was called in October — the first time there’d been two general elections in the same year since 1910 — and Labour candidate Harold Wilson won a narrow victory. Wilson served as prime minister from 1964 to 1970 and again from 1974 to 1976.

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> Event: Moorgate tube crash

On February 28, 1975, a train on the Northern City Line of the London Underground (“tube”) failed to stop and collided with a wall at Moorgate, the line’s southern terminus. Some 74 people were injured and 43 of them died, making this the tube system’s worst peacetime accident. An investigation concluded that the accident was caused by the train’s driver, Leslie Newson, who was one of the fatalities — but authorities never discovered what caused his failure to stop the train in time.

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> Event: First commercial flight of the supersonic Concorde

The Concorde, a passenger jet capable of flying more than twice the speed of sound, was a joint Anglo-French endeavor in service from 1976 to 2003. The Queen traveled on the Concorde for the first time in 1977, and made several later trips on it. It was so fast that the journey from London to New York took less than three hours (it was said that one could have lunch in London and arrive in New York in time for lunch again). However, the planes were extremely expensive, with tickets sometimes costing more than 30 times the price of the cheapest equivalent regular flight. In 2000, a Concorde flying from Paris to New York crashed after takeoff, killing all on board. A subsequent decline in passengers and increasing obsolescence led to the permanent grounding of the planes in 2003.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

> Event: Birth of Elizabeth’s first grandchild

Peter Phillips is the son of Elizabeth’s daughter, Princess Anne, and her first husband, champion equestrian Mark Phillips. The Queen’s oldest grandchild, he is currently 18th in line of succession for the throne. Phillips graduated from the University of Exeter. He has worked at Jaguar Racing and SEL UK, a boutique sports management company. He is the father of the Queen’s oldest great-grandchild, Savannah.

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> Event: Birth of the first IVF baby

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process that involves fertilizing a human egg with sperm in a culture medium in a laboratory. The fertilized egg is then implanted into the uterus, with the hopes of creating a successful pregnancy. Louise Brown, born at Royal Oldham Hospital near Manchester on July 25, 1978, was the first IVF baby. The procedure was developed by English physiologist Robert Edwards in collaboration with two other scientists. In 2010, Edwards won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and a year later he was knighted by the Queen.

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> Event: Election of Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979 and remained in power until 1990. She was the longest serving British prime minister in the 20th century and first woman to hold the post. Along with Ronald Reagan on the other side of the Atlantic, Thatcher dominated conservative politics in the 1980s. Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth met weekly, but were said to have had an icy relationship at times.

> Event: First Maze Prison Hunger Strike

The Queen was threatened from afar in 1977, when the IRA declared the royal family as legitimate targets for violence. In 1978, republican prisoners at Maze Prison, near Belfast, sought better conditions by means of a “dirty protest,” in which they refused to clean themselves and covered their cells in excrement. In 1980, they began a hunger strike that lasted nearly two months. A second and significantly longer strike in 1981 led to the deaths of several prisoners, including strike organizer Bobby Sands. The protests shone an international spotlight on the conflict and increased pro-IRA activism.

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> Event: Marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer

Prince Charles first met Diana in 1977 at her family’s country estate, but they didn’t become involved romantically until 1980. He proposed in early 1981 and they wed later that year. It was said that Diana was flattered by the attentions of such a distinguished figure, while Charles seemed to think of her primarily as a suitable bride for a member of the royal family. Their story — including Charles’s ongoing relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles (now his wife) and Diana’s tragic death — has been told many times, most recently in this year’s “Spencer,” starring Kristen Stewart as the ill-fated princess.

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