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In pictures: Queen Elizabeth II marks 60 years on the throne

Jane Bown / Camera Press

The Queen's 80th birthday portrait, taken in February 2006, is one of 60 photographs included in an exhibition at Windsor Castle's Drawings Gallery to celebrate The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

LONDON – It has been 60 years to the day since Britain was shocked by the bulletins: The King is dead; long live the Queen! 

The 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth was on tour in Kenya when she became queen on Feb. 6, 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI. She was informed by her husband, Prince Philip, as they walked in a garden at the Treetops hotelafter the news had been broadcast to the world.

Matt Dunham / AP

Members of The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery are seen through the smoke of their firing during a 41 Gun Salute to mark the official start of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in Hyde Park, London, on Feb. 6, 2012.

A storm delayed the queen's departure from Kenya until midnight. Then, there was an unscheduled stop in North Africa to get a black mourning dress aboard. She arrived in London in the fading light of the following day, where she was welcomed by then Prime Minister Winston Churchill. 

Sixty years on, Queen Elizabeth II promised on Monday to "dedicate myself anew to your service." 

"I hope also that this Jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear head and warm heart," she wrote to her subjects in a message.

The queen is now the second longest-serving monarch in British history after Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901.

To mark the jubilee Windsor Castle is holding an exhibition, The Queen: 60 Photographs for 60 Years.

Jane Roberts of the Royal Library, who helped to put together the exhibit, told NBC News that the pictures "encapsulate the character of the Queen, her life, her extraordinary duty continuing through the 60 years she has been on the throne, her commitment to her family at all times, her love of life and all sorts of different aspects of official and private duties."

-- The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

UPPA / Photoshot

The Queen returns to Buckingham Palace after the Coronation, June 2, 1953.

The Royal Collection

The Queen with the Duke of Edinburgh and their children (from left) Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne. March 1960.

The Belfast Telegraph

The Queen visits Belfast, Aug. 8, 1961.

John Scott / Alpha Press

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh watching competitors at the Badminton Horse Trials, April 20, 1968.

The Telegraph

The Queen with Prince and Princess Michael of Kent at Epsom watching as Kahyasi wins the Derby, June 1, 1988.

Polly Borland / Camera Press

The Queen in 2001.

Kirsty Wigglesworth / Pool via AP

View images from the extraordinary life of Queen Elizabeth II.

NBC's Keir Simmons looks at the Queen's legacy and enduring popularity among her subjects.