Though it might be hard to imagine now, Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t always the queen. She was born Princess Elizabeth. And when she succeeded her father to the throne, she had to decide what she wanted to use as her regnal name. Regnal names consist of a name — Elizabeth, in this case — plus a Roman numeral, which makes each sovereign’s name unique.
But have you ever thought about why Queen Elizabeth II is the second Queen Elizabeth? Who was Queen Elizabeth I? And how is Queen Elizabeth II related to Queen Elizabeth I? Here’s what you need to know.
As Royal Central notes, Queen Elizabeth I was England’s first Queen Elizabeth. She once held the record as the longest-ruling queen of England, reigning for 44 years between 1558 and 1603. As the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth I was born a princess.
But she was declared illegitimate through what Biography characterizes as “political machinations.” But eventually, upon the death of her half-sister, Mary Tudor, she took the crown. Her reign is referred to as “the Golden Age” or the era of “Elizabethan England,” a time of peace and prosperity.
Royal Central reports that though we use the Roman numeral “I” now, that’s not how the first Queen Elizabeth wrote her name during her reign. But during her time, she was simply known as Elizabeth of England. At the time of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne in 1952, historical references were changed to include the “I” to prevent any confusion.