Surprisingly, until her death on September 8, 2022, the only active military commander in the world who also served in the Second World War was none other than Queen Elizabeth II.
Like many British citizens during the Second World War, Princess Elizabeth wanted to do their part to help their country. Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, were moved to Windsor Castle in 1940.
In October 1940, when Princess Elizabeth was 14 years old, she broadcasted a message to the children of England, urging them to be brave. In 1942, Princess Elizabeth was appointed colonel of the Grenadier Guards.
When she was 19 years old in February 1945, Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Services (ATS). The ATS provided essential support during the Second World War. Its members served as anti-aircraft gunners, radio operators, mechanics, and drivers.
Princess Elizabeth was dubbed “Princess Auto Mechanic” in the press. Princess Elizabeth underwent a six-week auto mechanic training course, where she learned how to repair and rebuild engines, change tires, and drive every type of machine she worked on. Princess Elizabeth was still in the ATS when Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. By the end of the Second World War, Princess Elizabeth had been given the rank of honorary junior commander, which was the female equivalent of the captain at the time.
Less than ten years after Princess Elizabeth joined the ATS, she was commander-in-chief of all British Armed Forces. According to British constitutional law, the command and government of the British Armed Forces are vested to the British monarch, who holds the highest office in the military chain of command. Thus, Queen Elizabeth was in command of the British Armed Forces for the past 70 years.
Until September of 2022, Queen Elizabeth was the only remaining active military commander in the world who also served during the Second World War. In this role, Queen Elizabeth had the power to make war or peace and deploy armed forces overseas and within the United Kingdom to maintain peace, among other duties.