Queen Elizabeth II becomes longest serving British monarch

Queen Elizabeth II becomes longest serving British monarch

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.

Queen Elizabeth longest reigning monarch

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.”

[British Monarchy website]

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 are two great articles comparing The Queen to Queen Victoria. [BBC, Mirror]

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]

Queen Elizabeth Portait for 88th birthday

Photos: Mary McCartney / Getty / David Bailey

69 thoughts on “Queen Elizabeth II becomes longest serving British monarch

  1. Congratulations, Your Majesty. There will never be another one like her. I would love to have a cup of tea with her and get her thoughts on the changing world.

    I don’t want to think of a world without her.

  2. I agree with you, Rhiannon. There is no one like Her Majesty and I offer my congratulations, too.
    What a dedicated and hard-working woman she is. She has made her mark and I hope she will continue to do so for quite some time. God Bless the Queen.

    1. This speech speaks to her successful reign:

      “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

      She has served her kingdom quite well.

      1. Is it weird that when I read that quote I read it in HM’s voice? Like, I remember her voice from the video of that speech.

        1. Not weird at all, KMR. Just a tribute to the impression the young Elizabeth made on you and others. She is someone others need to look up to. She truly understands hard work and devotion to people and to history. Her family has been given a stellar example of what a successful, caring Monarch is. I believe Charles will follow her example down the road. I wonder about William, but hope he steps up when his chance comes. Unless, of course, it is Harry who will step up. I think PH has what it takes.

          Thanks for this great post, KMR. Am enjoying reading the articles and seeing the photos. Long may HM reign!

          1. The same for me. The Queen does have such a clear voice and savours every word. I remember listening to a recording that the Queen and her sister Margaret made to the children of Britain during the war and you could hear every word. I believe her father must have helped teach her. I greatly admire Queen Victoria as it may have been noticed. They both have achieved a lot.Thank you for this post KMR.

          2. You know, I always think I’m going to seem weird when I admit stuff about my knowledge and/or remembering stuff about royals on here, but you guys are always so accepting and never make me feel weird about it. Thank you guys so much for that!

  3. Yes, that speech sums up her service, her life. She is an amazing woman. So dedicated and more “real” than any could imagine. I loved the candid photos, KMR. Loved seeing her smiles.
    What a light up the room smile she has! She has been a devoted monarch. I wish to say “Congratulations” to Her Majesty, too. Her life has been a full one and I hope it continues to be so. It is nice to sit back and reflect on how much she has done for her nation, her people. For the commonwealth. Few people in life — male or female — have such a long and successful run.
    She is someone we can admire and love.

  4. P.S. Loved the Mary McCartney photo. Also the ones in the vibrant two tone blue coat and hat.
    The photos of the younger Queen are so lovely, too. Life did not hand her what she expected from her early childhood, but she adjusted and acclimated beautifully and when I read that she never complains, I thought of so many wonderful women of her generation. They live with grace and dignity. HM deserves much praise.

    1. There are actually two McCartney photos, but I like the one where HM is smiling. HM always looks better when she smiles.

      1. The Queen has typically had a stern expression on her face in the earlier years of her reign b/c of her formal upbringing and education by Queen Mary, Churchill, etc. as I’ve mentioned. Apparently the royals call it her “Miss. Piggy Face.” Apparently when watching the video on the news of the playing of the National Anthem during Charles’ and Diana’s wedding, the Queen watched her own glum expression and called out “Phillip, come see! I have my Miss. Piggy Face on again!” When she smiles, it’s with her whole face. I think when Her Majesty smiles, for an 89-year-old woman, she looks beautiful to me.

  5. God Save the Queen!

    When Her Majesty made that speech when she was 21 years old she offered so much hope and inspiration to the public. What changes and events HM has witnessed and led by example. Her Majesty has provided stability and what an inspiration to the Queen and Kings of Europe to come,

  6. Sorry if I sound argumentative, but she’s been a terrible Queen, I think. Completely passive. Yes, she reads her boxes diligently, and she shows up for lots of stuff, unlike Kate, but she hasn’t actively done anything to improve the life of a single person. And please don’t say “she’s not allowed to do stuff like that”. She hasn’t even tried. Charles figured out things he could do, she could’ve too. Yes, I agree that she is a product of her times and she drank the cool aid when her courtiers told her that she need only to be seen to fulfill her duties. But sixty years on the throne and she never grew or changed into something more. That is not a “strength” its a character flaw. The woman is rigid and unbending. A terrible Queen.

    1. I think Charles had more freedom as a long-time heir. Charles didn’t start his conservation or jobs work push until his late twenties. Before that is was a few years in the military.

      Princess Elizabeth became Queen at 25. If her father had lived another 20-30 years, we might have seen a very different couple of decades out of her before her reign started.

    2. I wouldn’t call her “terrible,” but just lackluster. But, I tend to agree with you and I don’t really understand the glowing accolades that she receives.

    3. If you watch documentaries they show how she has been the hand behind the scene urging and supporting changes to the British monarchy that have helped it survive and not become less relevant and dwindle like monarchies in other European countries.

      The Commonwealth is another credit to her, no other Sovereign has travelled as much and she’s transition what were former colonies into a Commonwealth – other European countries that had colonies have trouble or not relation to their former colonies.

      There’s a lot of unseen – and that’s the challenge – you’ve never had a Prime Minister that bad mouths her and even Thatcher who didn’t like her much and what she stood for came to respect her – which says a lot.

      1. You know how we talk about Kates sugars and how they only say nice things about her? No one has or has had more sugar than the Queen. Of course there are documentaries singing her praises. And books and articles and everything. Try to find a documentary criticizing the Queen and the way she has conducted her reign. Try to find a book that intelligently explains her lack of proactiveness. Its practically impossible. The palace monitors stuff like that. I got excited when Sally Bedell Smith wrote a biography of the Queen. I loved her Diana bio, it was critical, but in a calm intellectual way. The intro to the queens bio makes it clear that the palace was looking over her shoulder the whole time, and the book itself gave me cavities it was so sugary. I don’t think she would be so beloved if people had a better understanding of how she operates.

        1. Well where have you gained your better understanding of how she operates? I’m genuinely curious by the way that wasn’t said with attitude or anything.

          In a country with such vocal anti-monarchist and pro-republicains do you really think if there was something of note we won’t have heard about it?

          Also once access is given to someone once they are outside the palace walls and there’s no one monitoring the notes and drafts you’re writing as an author, so really if Sally Bedell Smith had seen things that left her dismayed and she’d not found the Queen worthy of whatever respect/adoration or if she had negative things to write but was scared to she could have just kept it plain and ordinary and not the raving review that left you with cavities. There are those who critic the Queen, like David Starkey, the UK isn’t void of dialogue, like say North Korea where debate and opinion about it’s public figures can’t be had. People have criticised her for the way she was absent in her children’s upbringing, how out of touch she was with public sentiment during Diana’s death – although those in her defence say she was thinking about giving William and Harry space to grief away from the public/media eye – etc. – like that’s just an example of dialogue not me trying to counter the argument by the way 🙂

          Even though Kate has sugars there’s us – lol – in every case where there are valid grievances there’s no way it can be utterly suppressed and unheard of. In fact until the Queen Mother’s death the Queen was quite unpopular. And a lot of the chances, like accepting Camilla, came about after the Queen Mother’s death.

          No doubt we don’t know much of inner workings and the palace tries to keep the media uninformed but I just don’t think you can hide being a super crap and terrible leader or person without someone somewhere saying something about it.

          1. The media is quite open about the fact that no negative information about HM (and by extension Philip) can be put into the public arena.

            The times we’ve seen her publicly stumble have been quite surprising because she’s actively sold as positive font of knowledge, wisdom and someone who never puts a foot wrong. And when she does put a foot wrong, it’s quickly glossed over whereby the wrong is minimised whilst super positive PR emphasises how wonderful she is thus minimising the damage the wrong caused. And the papers rarely bring up again the wrongs she has done such that the public is left with an overall positive image. Eg Diana- major screw up. But PR keeps going on and on about looking after her grandsons thus shifting the focus. Never talks about how exactly she screwed up over diana’s death. Just a one liner that there was a mis-step and then shift focus to what a wonderful granny she is/was to WH. As if she was the only person with them when Diana died.

            Another example: Andrew. She actively shields him and stops media stories on him. Yet, no one ever comments on that in the media. Ever. Doesn’t it make you curious that the Andrew stories always end abruptly with no resolution? Ie one day it’s scandal galore and the next day nothing. No column inches, no whisper. Nothing.

            When she publicly cried over losing her govt funded yacht – during a recession!!!!!!

            Her being forced to pay tax when the country had gone from war to rationing to several recessions.

            The list is endless.

          2. To play a bit of devil’s advocate about the royal yacht thing:

            The Queen had that yacht for years, spent a lot of time on that yacht, and had a lot of memories from her time on that yacht. Losing that yacht, because of it’s emotional connection, would be a big deal. Crying over losing that yacht made the Queen seem human, not an asshole.

            For reference, when I was 12 I moved out of the childhood home I grew up in and to another state. Yes, I cried over losing friends, and yes I cried over losing my dogs that I couldn’t take with me. But I also cried over losing that house. Specifically the house. Because I spent 10 years in that house and had a lot of memories associated with that house. And knowing I would never set foot in it again made me emotional and I cried about it.

            If you have an emotional connection to something, someone, or someplace, it is normal to get emotional when it is taken away from you.

        2. How do you feel she operates?

          I feel she has the best PR machinery there could be… “the firm” or whatever, (what was it Diana called it?) have certainly done a good job with her or she is perfect… which is not possible :p

        3. Kitty Kelly’s book “The Royals” and Nicholas Davies’ “Queen Elizabeth II: A Woman Who Is Not Amused” come to mind immediately as two that present a much-less than flattering image of the Queen. Kelly’s was written in 1997, Davies’ in 1994. I believe that neither sells well in the United Kingdom because a number of the alleged incidents discussed is considered libel and could be prosecuted. I take the glass half full approach. I assume there are things written in those books that are true. There are also likely things written in those books that are invented. Since neither author provided a bibliography of their interviews with “close friends” or the like, I’m not sure how much is of either side. There are several balanced biographies out there, such as the ones by Robert Lacey, Ben Pimlott and Sarah Bradford.
          I absolutely love the Queen (I would have loved her more if I had been born in the 1920s and could have married her myself) but I don’t think she’s perfect by any means. She’s a constitutional monarch and is bound to her duty. She does what she is told. Because of Parliamentary supremacy, the Prime Minister could simply overrule what she wanted anyway. But I’m also an American and some of my ancestors chose to break with the Crown over 239 years ago, so I’m not bound to be deferential unless I feel like it.

  7. I wanted to thank you KMR for posting this special post for Queen Elizabeth II on her special day! I have noticed that none of the other Kate-centric sites have done this which I think is a shame. So Thank You KMR for taking the time to commemorate the Queen on her special day!

    1. Thank you, Lauri. I’m actually quite surprised no one (of the blogs I check) posted anything for HM’s historic day. HM’s Jewel Vault blog did, but that’s a blog dedicated to HM. None of the Kate focused blogs did.

      1. They might now that the proof of the visit to Scotland is out. They’ll be all atwitter over the possibility of a personal royal order. HM’s milestone will become all about KM and her “value to the Queen”.

        1. Are their pictures of them in Scotland? I haven’t seen them if there are. I am assuming that is the proof you are talking about.

          Oh gosh, there have been so many stories as of late about Kate receiving the personal royal order. Sadly, she probably will, but I would love it if come the banquet in October if Kate still did not have it. I am sure the Queen will have given it to her though :(.

          1. Not any photos that I know of. But a royal reporter confirmed they arrived in Scotland on the 8th.

            You and me both, Overit. It would be so great if Kate showed up to the State Banquet without the Order.

    2. I’m with you Lauri. Thank you KMR. I thought for sure the other Kate sites would post something about the Queen. Especially since there is nothing going on with Kate. But I think it is quiet sad they didn’t. Apparently Kate is the only one that matters. 🙁

        1. It was when I commented on it at about 1pm on the 9th. I checked five other Kate blogs and none had anything to do with the Queen.

          As of earlier this morning two had put something up about the Queen (with one being a “the Queen and Kate” article as opposed to just a Queen article, and the other simply tacking on the Queen’s milestone to a previous Kate article).

          1. I’ll post the links if you like but I feel like people are dragging The Duchess of Cambridge into this just because they don’t like her. This post should remain solely about The Queen

          2. There is no need to post links; I believe you when you say there are other Kate-focused blogs that have articles about the Queen’s milestone. As I said, I’ve read two.

            At least in terms of this thread right here, we’re not disparaging Kate at all. We are specifically talking about other Kate-focused blogs and how they treated the Queen’s milestone.

            When I posted this comment:

            September 9, 2015 at 12:39 pm (2 days ago)
            Thank you, Lauri. I’m actually quite surprised no one (of the blogs I check) posted anything for HM’s historic day. HM’s Jewel Vault blog did, but that’s a blog dedicated to HM. None of the Kate focused blogs did.”

            I had checked five other Kate-focused blogs that I read and none of them had anything posted about the Queen. I was simply commenting about my surprise, because I genuinely thought they would have something up. In fact, I waited a bit to post my own article because I wanted to see how other other blogs would mark the day (since I wasn’t sure which type of approach I wanted to do). Since no other blogs I check had anything up at that time, I went with the “article about the newly released photo and the Queen’s appearance and links to Victoria v Elizabeth articles” approach.

            When I checked back the next morning and by the time I answered you with the comment:

            September 10, 2015 at 4:58 pm (11 hours ago)
            It was when I commented on it at about 1pm on the 9th. I checked five other Kate blogs and none had anything to do with the Queen.

            As of earlier this morning two had put something up about the Queen (with one being a “the Queen and Kate” article as opposed to just a Queen article, and the other simply tacking on the Queen’s milestone to a previous Kate article).”

            Two of the Kate-focused blogs (of the five I read) had included the Queen’s milestone. As I said, one had a “The Queen and Kate” article and the other included the Queen into a Kate article from the day before.

            As of right now, 4:30am on September 11th, of the five blogs I check, only those two blogs I mentioned have anything about the Queen. In this particular thread, we’re not even talking about Kate, we’re specifically talking about the Kate-focused blogs and how they treated the Queen’s milestone. In other parts of this article’s comment section, yes there has been mention of Kate. There was also mention of Princess Sofia of Sweden.

  8. Send her victorious – Happy and glorious – Long to reign over us – God Save the Queen!!!

    I find it fascinating, how much the world has changed in all the time Liz and Phil have been monarch and consort. Just imagine, 60+ years of world leaders and other notable people having passed on and off the world stage, but they were a constant through it all.

    1. They are not elected like other leaders so it’s hardly an accomplishment to be “constant” when the position you hold is your birth-right

      1. Ugh – please don’t be a killjoy.
        Let old betty and phil have their day.
        I find the history of this occasion and her reign interesting… I could care less, if it’s because she is only there by birthright and outlived them all.

      2. RT Victoria was absent majority of her reign, after Alfred died, so it’s very possible to not be “constant” when the position you hold is your birth-right. She’s never stopped turning up, despite being in her 80s she makes 250+ appearances and while other monarchs in Europe have abdicated and she continues. So once again, it really is possible to not be “constant.”

      3. True. She happened to be young when she became Queen and has managed to live a long life. Just like Queen Victoria.

        So what kind of PERSONAL (not coincidental) achievements has she made? Well, maybe she has some political influence but this we would not know for sure.

        Surely she works hard, but then again, she does not have to worry about grocery shopping or other domestic tasks (unless she wants to) in addition, like most of us do.

  9. God bless and save the Queen!! She is a great lady and she’s human like the rest of us and I’m sure she has her moments of joy and sadness and disappointment. I hope she had a wonderful day with her family to celebrate the occasion.

  10. Not quite sure I agree with all the accolades flowing towards the queen….in the past few years I’ve paid more attention to her ……I’m not British nor one bit inclined to rain on anyone’s parade so will simply say that I watched a video on you tube which really delighted me…..an engaged couple had invited the queen to their wedding…I think….anyway….the Queen made an appearance and that’s something a supporter of the Queen will remember forever…..

    KMR your blog is awesome and I noticed just today if not before that a differing opinion….a person who says what he or she thinks despite being in a minority….the posters here don’t attack and slam, disagree and argue their viewpoint yes but don’t get personal and ugly…and unless things get heated too badly you allow the diverse opinions…even when I saw you step in once it was low key…I have nothing to gain by these comments so feel free to express my thoughts w/o being accused of…..fill in the blank….:)

    And really it’s a bit much to celebrate just living long enough to pass up someone who didn’t……and that’s what this comes down to….

    1. Eh, if nothing else we can acknowledge the historical significance of Liz II becoming Britain’s longest reigning monarch. It is historically significant. But if it’s pure historical significance is where you leave it, then that works.

      Thank you for your comments, royalsareajoke, about the vibe here. I’m so glad you guys make the comment section a pleasurable experience. It could easily turn sour (I’ve seen it get that way at other blogs and forums), but for the most part you guys are pretty great about not letting it get that way.

  11. Thank you, KMR, for your recognition of this milestone and for providing the links. I enjoyed the slide show in the Express; the color coronation photo is a stunner. Her Majesty, indeed! If the crown sat heavy on her head, she didn’t show it.

  12. God save the Queen! I think she has served her country and the commonwealth well.

    Thank you KMR for this post, and for including the beautiful photos by Mary McCartney.

  13. Meh, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. She is entitled and pampered beyond belief so what are we celebrating? Good for her for living to a ripe old age but I don’t feel a connection to her as my Queen. I feel the public serve her rather than the other way around. Just my two cents.

    Now OT … did anyone see Princess Sofia’s first speech? She was amazing! She only just joined the royal family and is already making an impact. Kate has been a royal for over 4 years and can barely string a sentence together. But when the media compares Kate and Sofia, all they look at is their style. Now I hope they notice Sofia’s work ethic and shame Kate into stepping up!


    1. Celebrating a woman, who has not only has dedicated her long life to duty and service, but has given thousands of speeches – eeehhh no big deal

      Former glamour model Princess Sofia gives one speech and it’s amazing. Oh boy!

      I am humored by the huge discrepancies in these two differing views.

      Maybe if Britain’s longest serving monarch, ERII, had a dishy husband, “fashionable” clothes and wasn’t so old – her historic reign would be of some importance.

        1. I am aware you weren’t. It’s just funny and a bit confusing that you aren’t impressed by QueenE, who has become the longest serving monarch in British history.

          Yet, Sofia makes one speech and it was “amazing.”

          Does anyone else see the amusing difference in opinion or is it just me?

    2. No matter your personal feelings about the Queen or monarchy in general, you have to admit that passing the record for longest reigning monarch is historical. Liz II will go down in history books as having reigned the longest of any British monarch. If nothing else, we can appreciate the historical significance of it.

      1. Agreed. I have a lot of respect QE2. One has to recognize that she was born into a totally different time, and what was acceptable and expected from royalty then, is obviously no longer the case. She has maneuvered the British royal family with a lot of grace and steely backbone through the good times and the awful. She may not go down as an innovative and progressive monarch ( I think Charles will have some interesting tricks up his sleeve!), but her sense of duty to the Commonwealth has never been in question.

  14. Thanks for marking the occasion KMR.

    The lack of mention on other sites I think might point to the possibility that people who love William and Kate aren’t interested in or care much for the institution of monarchy and see royalty as a form of celebrity than part of an institution.

    1. Or maybe the queen’s work will always leave W&K at a disadvantage…

      I’m really not a fan of the queen, but all you hear of is: duty, dedication, hard-work, etc. …

      1. Yes, that could reason why.

        Haha, yes I noticed. But I like that we can have dialogue and I appreciate the different point of views.

  15. Complementing the different perspectives on the Queen in the comments, an article in today’s New York Times offers a spectrum of assessments on her reign. A few tidbits: “…the perfect symbol for the orderly management…of domestic transformation and international decline.” “…a visible symbol of unity.” “…rigorous about her responsibilities.” “…a rock of stablility in a world of constant change.” “The queen has succeeded only in serving the monarchy and the status quo.”

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