The Queen began the year 2000 with her 13th visit to Australia, but the health of both her mother and her sister remained on her mind. Her mother would celebrate her 100th birthday that August and Elizabeth made sure it was an unforgettable occasion. First, there was a grand ball, which also marked the 70th birthday of Princess Margaret, the 50th birthday of Princess Anne and the 40th birthday of Prince Andrew. On the day of her birthday, the Queen Mother rode with the Prince of Wales in carriage up the Mall to Buckingham Palace. That summer the planning for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee two years later also began. After the September 11 attacks, Elizabeth joined a congregation of 2,700 – mostly Americans – at St. Paul’s Cathedral for a memorial service and she sang the words to the National Anthem.
Princess Margaret passed away in the early hours of 9 February 2002. Her funeral took place on 15 February – fifty years to the day of King George VI’s funeral. The Queen Mother had cut her arm in a fall two days before the funeral, but she still managed to attend. As scheduled Elizabeth left for Jamaica – the first stop on a two-week Golden Jubilee Tour – three days after the funeral. She called in every day to check on her mother. The Queen Mother died on 30 March 2002 with her daughter and Margaret’s grandchildren and her niece Margaret Rhodes by her side. She was 101 years old. On the night before the funeral, Elizabeth gave a televised address to her “beloved mother” at Windsor Castle saying, “I thank you also from my heart for the love you gave her during her life and the honour you now give her in death.” In early 2003, Elizabeth slipped and tore the cartilage in her right knee, which required surgery. She was frustrated with being stuck indoors, but she recovered well and was soon back to riding.
On 9 April 2005, the Prince of Wales finally married Camilla Parker Bowles – who had been gradually brought into the fold. The Church of England had recently relaxed their rules – allowing for divorcees to remarry. Elizabeth – also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England – decided it was inappropriate to attend the civil service – but 28 other members of the family did attend. She and Prince Philip did attend the “Service of Prayer and Dedication” afterwards at St George’s Chapel. Camilla became known as the Duchess of Cornwall. Just three months later, 52 people were killed in a terror attack in London and said, “I want to express my admiration for the people of our capital city, who in the aftermath of yesterday’s bombings are calmly determined to resume their normal lives. That is the answer to this outrage.” On 20 November 2007, Elizabeth and Philip celebrated 60 years of marriage, and there was a commemoration in Westminster Abbey where their grandson Prince William read from the Book of John. They flew to Malta – where they had lived as a normal couple long ago – on the 20th. On 21 December 2007, Elizabeth surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria to become the longest-living British monarch.
On 29 December 2010, her first great-grandchild – Savannah Phillips – was born. This was followed by another great-granddaughter – Isla – in 2012. Her grandson Prince William married Catherine Middleton in 2011, and they have three children together. Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in 2018 and their first child – Archie – was born on 6 May 2019. Zara Phillips married Mike Tindall in 2011, and they have three children together. Princess Eugenie married Jack Brooksbank in 2018 and their first child – August – was born in 2021 – making a grand total of 10 great-grandchildren.
On 6 February 2012, Elizabeth celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, but for Elizabeth, it would always be the day her beloved Papa died. In a statement, she said, “In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness.” In 2015, she also became the longest-reigning British monarch.
Her health has remained robust with few health scares in recent years. In 2013, she developed symptoms of gastroenteritis but was allowed to return home from the hospital the following day. She also had cataract surgery in May 2018. Prince Charles is expected to take on more of his mother’s duties as she grows older, but she does not intend to abdicate. She celebrated her 95th birthday in 2021, shortly after being widowed.1