The Queen’s most defining milestones took place at the Abbey, both in terms of personal happiness and public duty.
Westminster Abbey was where the then 21-year-old Princess Elizabeth married Philip on Thursday November 20, 1947, and also where she was crowned during her coronation on June 2, 1953.
The abbey was also the venue for romantic royal celebrations for the Queen.
His daughter, Princess Anne, married Captain Mark Phillips in the church in 1973, while his second son, the Duke of York, married Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
In 2011, her grandson, the Duke of Cambridge, now Prince of Wales, exchanged vows with Kate Middleton as millions around the world watched.
The Queen has also attended thanksgiving or commemorative events such as a service to mark the 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program in 2016 at the Abbey.
The church also remembered the loss of his mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and his former daughter-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales.
The Queen Mother’s funeral was held at the Abbey in 2002, five years after Diana’s.
The Gothic church – whose official title is St Peter’s Collegiate Church, Westminster – has been the coronation site of monarchs in England since 1066.
Westminster Abbey is located in the City of Westminster, central London.
Westminster Abbey dates back to the 11th century between 1042 and 1052, during the reign of Edward the Confessor.
Edward, son of King Ethelred “the Unready”, was exiled from England by the Danes. Legend has it that he swore to make a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s in Rome if he ever returned to his kingdom. However, once on the throne he could not leave his subjects, so the pope released him from his vow on the condition that he found or restore a monastery at St. Peter. This led to the construction of a new Norman-style church to replace the Saxon church in Westminster.
Westminster Abbey was consecrated on Holy Innocents Day, December 28, 1065, but the King was ill and could not attend the service. This original church was largely demolished by King Henry III to build the Gothic structure we see today, in honor of Edward.
The demolition of the previous church began in 1245, starting with the eastern part. Henry III was said to be “recklessly extravagant in the money spent on the abbey and its lavish decoration”, with an estimated cost of around £45,000 – around £15 million in today’s money.
The consecration of the new church took place on October 3, 1269, but construction ceased three years later on Henry’s death and was completed at a much later date, leaving part of the old one attached to the Gothic building for many years. In the cloister, the Pyx Chamber and the Undercroft survive from Edward’s Church from the 11th century. On each side of the access door to the Pyx, marks of masons are visible on the walls.
Between 1503 and 1519 a new Lady Chapel was built by King Henry VII to replace the one built in the 13th century. It was consecrated on February 19, 1516.
The last major construction was the construction of the western towers between 1722 and 1745, built of Portland stone, to a design by Nicholas Hawksmoor, the abbey’s surveyor. John James, his successor as surveyor, completed the work.
Westminster Abbey is the resting place of 17 monarchs, including Charles II and Elizabeth I.
However, Queen Elizabeth II will not be buried in Westminster Abbey, but will instead rest in the King George VI Memorial Chapel.
The chapel, named after her father, already contains the coffins of her father, King George VI – after whom the chapel is named and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, as well as the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.
The coffin of Prince Philip, who died last year, is also being moved from the Royal Vault to the chapel to be alongside the Queen.