Elizabeth II is proclaimed Queen of the United Kingdom on February 8, 1952.
George VI's health declined during 1951, and Elizabeth was soon frequently standing in for him at public events. In October of that year, she toured Canada, and visited the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, in Washington, D.C.; on the trip, the Princess carried with her a draft accession declaration for use if the King died while she was out of the United Kingdom. In early 1952, Elizabeth and Philip set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand via Kenya. At Sagana Lodge, about 100 miles north of Nairobi, word arrived of the death of Elizabeth's father on 6 February. Philip broke the news to the new queen. Martin Charteris, then her Assistant Private Secretary, asked her what she intended to be called as monarch, to which she replied: "Elizabeth, of course." Elizabeth was proclaimed queen throughout her realms, and the royal party hastily returned to the United Kingdom. She and the Duke of Edinburgh moved into Buckingham Palace.
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is the Queen regnant of sixteen independent sovereign states known informally as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. She holds each crown separately and equally in a shared monarchy, as well as acting as Head of the Commonwealth, and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. As a constitutional monarch, she is politically neutral and by convention her role is largely ceremonial.
When Elizabeth was born, the British Empire was a pre-eminent world power, but its influence declined, particularly after World War II, and the empire evolved into the modern Commonwealth of Nations. Her father, George VI, was the last Emperor of India. On his death in 1952, Elizabeth became Head of the Commonwealth, and queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, later renamed Sri Lanka. During her reign, which at 57 years is one of the longest for a British monarch, she became queen of 25 other countries within the Commonwealth as they gained independence from Britain. She has been the sovereign of 32 individual nations, half of which later became republics.