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Queen Elizabeth Warrior Princess

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As we pause to remember Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on Sept. 8 at Balmoral Castle, as a monarch, historical figure, world leader, and fashion icon, some may not know that the highly dignified queen also reigned as a warrior princess.

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Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth I and King George VI, made history in 1945 when she became the inaugural female member of the Royal Family to join the British Armed Services as a full-time active member. She joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1945.

Aged 18 at the time of her entry into the Armed Forces, she joined the women’s branch of the British Army as a second subaltern and later was promoted to the rank of Junior Commander, the equivalent of Captain. Prior to her enlistment, the princess conducted her first inspection of a military regiment during a Windsor Castle parade. At that time, she was named an honorary colonel of the Grenadier Guards.

Princess Elizabeth displayed substantial technical skill during her time in the service, becoming a mechanic and a driver March 1945. Newspapers at the time deemed her “Princess Auto Mechanic.”

Registered under the name Elizabeth Windsor as inductee No. 230873, she was known for loving the feeling of dirt beneath her fingernails and the experience of a good day’s work. The ATS provided key support during the war, with its members serving as anti-aircraft gunners, radio operators, mechanics and drivers.

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The princess wore overalls and a uniform to perform her military duties, which she completed without the initial approval of her father the King. Yet Elizabeth was determined to ‘do her bit’ for the war effort. And well into her 90s, the Queen was known to diagnose and repair faulty engines.

As we remember the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II, we also honor the accomplishments of a ‘warrior princess’ ahead of her time; a trailblazer who did it all in service to her country.

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