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Queen Elizabeth II Was The Only Current Military Commander Who Also Served In WW2

Madeline Hiltz
(Photo Credit: PA Images/ Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: PA Images/ Getty Images)

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.

Princess Elizabeth ATS
Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) takes the salute during a march-past of A.T.S. (Auxiliary Territorial Service) cadets at the Imperial Services College, Windsor, June 14th, 1946. (Photo Credit: Keystone/ Hulton Archive/ Getty Images)

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 II at the Trooping of the Colour 1946
Princess Elizabeth at the Trooping of the Colour in 1949, for her father, King George V’s 53 birthday. (Photo Credit: PA Images/ Getty Images)

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.

Queen Elizabeth II Trooping of the colour
Queen Elizabeth II performs a smart salute during the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London June 1986. (Photo Credit: Fox Photos/ Getty Images)

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.

Madeline Hiltz

Maddy Hiltz is someone who loves all things history. She received her Bachelors of Arts in history and her Master’s of Arts degree in history both from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Her thesis examined menstrual education in Victorian England. She is passionate about Princess Diana, the Titanic, the Romanovs, and Egypt amongst other things.

In her spare time, Maddy loves playing volleyball, running, walking, and biking, although when she wants to be lazy she loves to read a good thriller. She loves spending quality time with her friends, family, and puppy Luna!

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