The commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces, also referred to as commander in chief of the armed forces of the Crown, is a constitutional role vested in the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, who as head of state is the "Head of the Armed Forces".
The Queen has a long and close relationship with the Armed Forces, both in the United Kingdom and in the Commonwealth. As Sovereign, The Queen is Head of the Armed Forces, and is also the wife, mother and grandmother of individuals having served in the Forces.
The Queen's relationship with the Armed Forces began when, as Princess Elizabeth, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1945, becoming the first female member of the Royal Family to join the Armed Services as a full-time active member. During her time in the ATS, the Princess learnt to drive and to maintain vehicles.
Since then, The Queen has maintained a close relationship with the Armed Forces through regular visits to service establishments and ships. She holds many military appointments and honorary ranks.
As is the tradition for the monarch's birthday, The Queen's birthday is celebrated every year with the great military display of Trooping of the Colour. For many years, The Queen attended Trooping on horseback and dressed in military uniform.
The Queen also spends much time meeting servicemen and women of all ranks, and their families, both at home and on overseas trips.
In addition to awarding various military honours at investitures, The Queen also introduced the Elizabeth Cross. The first medal to which The Queen put her name, this was instituted in 2009 to give special recognition to the families of those who have died on military operations, or as a result of terrorism, since 1948.
In addition to honours, The Queen also leads the nation each year in paying respects to the fallen each year on Remembrance Sunday.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
British Armed Forces