Today, September 9, at about 5:30pm UK time, Queen Elizabeth II will surpass Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest reigning monarch.
UPDATE: It’s now past 5:30pm in the UK. Queen Elizabeth has officially become the longest reigning British monarch in history.
There is no way to know the exact time the Queen will overtake Victoria as there is no precise time of death for King George VI, though he is thought to have died at about 1:00am on February 6, 1952. Buckingham Palace calculated that the Queen will overtake Victoria when HM has reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours, and about 30 minutes.
To mark the occasion, Buckingham Palace released the above new photo of the Queen sitting at her desk in BP working on her daily “red box” containing matters of state. The photo was taken in July 2015 by Mary McCartney, daughter of Sir Paul McCartney.
McCartney said of photographing the Queen: “Having grown up during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II it was a thrill to meet her and a very great privilege to take her photo on this historic occasion. She is a truly inspirational person, a trailblazer and a beacon for womankind.” [Daily Mail]
Instead of a lavish celebration, today the Queen, joined by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, opened Borders Railway in Scotland. The Queen and Philip took the train from Edinburgh to Tweedbank where she gave a short speech before unveiling a plaque to officially open the Railway. HM mentioned her historic milestone in her speech, saying: “It is not one to which I have ever aspired… But I thank you all… for your touching messages of great kindness.”
HM’s speech in full:
“The Duke of Edinburgh and I are delighted to be back in the Borders today and, especially, to have arrived by train! It has been wonderful to witness the excitement which the return of the railway has brought here. The Borders Railway brings so much promise for sharing and invigorating this most beautiful countryside as a place to work, live and enjoy.
“Prince Philip and I are very grateful for the warmth of your welcome on this occasion. Many including you, First Minister, have also kindly noted another significance attaching to today, although it is not one to which I have ever aspired. Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones; my own is no exception. But I thank you all, and the many others at home and overseas, for your touching messages of great kindness.
“So now to the business in hand. It is my very happy duty to declare the Borders Railway open.”
Here’s part of HM’s speech in a Sky News video:
The Queen wore a turquoise and indigo coat by Karl Ludwig, a matching Angela Kelly hat, and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Bow Brooch.
Here is a nice article about the Queen – it includes a slide show of a photo from every year of HM’s reign which is cool. [Express]
Here are some lovely candid photos of the Queen. [Telegraph]
Here are 63 fun facts about the Queen for every year of her reign. [Express]
Here is a nice infographic about the many world leaders The Queen has outlasted. [BBC]
The Queen may be the longest reigning British monarch in history, but she doesn’t even make the top ten longest reigning monarchs of all time. Here’s a list of the top ten. [Independent]
Photos: Mary McCartney / Getty / David Bailey