Elizabeth is greeted by children a day ahead of her 90th birthday. (Arthur Edwards/Pool Photo via AP)
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Queen Elizabeth II marks her 90th birthday Thursday as Britons and many throughout the world celebrate her long and dignified reign.Elizabeth was a young princess during World War II, and her father King George VI was concerned for her safety as London came under the repeated German bombing raids known as the Blitz.Elizabeth's life was changed forever in 1936 when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated so he could marry his divorced lover Wallis Simpson. This made her father the king and Elizabeth heir to the throne. They were staying in a remote part of Kenya on Feb. 6, 1952, when she was told that the king had died. She automatically became queen upon her father's death, although the official coronation did not take place for more than a year.DOES THE QUEEN PLAN TO RETIRE?The strong-willed and able-bodied queen has given no indication she plans to leave the throne, and has described her unique position as a "job for life".
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