When Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York, was born in 1926, it seemed unlikely that she would ever become the monarch of Great Britain. But the abdication of her uncle, Edward, the Prince of Wales, in 1936 changed the course of royal history and of 10-year-old Elizabeth's life.
When her father, King George VI, died in 1952, Elizabeth became queen. In honor of her succession to the throne, TIME chose Elizabeth II as the 1953 Woman of the Year, finding that her significance was that "of a fresh young blossom on roots that had weathered many a season of wintry doubt. The British, as weary and discouraged as the rest of the world in 1952, saw in their new young Queen a reminder of a great past... and dared to hope that she might be an omen of a great future."
Researched by Joan Levinstein, the Time Inc. Research Center