Queen Elizabeth II’s Most Notable Accomplishments

When World War II broke out in 1939, Princess Elizabeth was only 13 years old. As noted by The National World War II Museum, when Buckingham Palace was bombed during the Blitz in 1940, her father King George VI and his wife, Elizabeth, remained there in solidarity with the rest of the population, but the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were evacuated to Windsor Castle, 20 miles away.

As the war dragged on, Elizabeth felt a keen sense of duty. According to Biography, she wanted to enlist as soon as she came of age in 1944, but the royal family couldn’t allow the heir to the throne to be put in danger. But Elizabeth refused to take no for an answer and kept pushing. In 1945, when she was 19, Elizabeth was given permission to join the military effort. She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territory Service (ATS), and trained for six weeks as an auto mechanic.

Time notes that this wasn’t a combat role, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t come with risks — at least 335 members of the ATS were killed during the war. The young princess’ dedication to her country and her willingness to serve just like anyone else (well, almost; she did get to go home to Windsor Castle every night to sleep) made her extremely popular and sparked a lifelong love of cars and mechanical work.

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