Queen Elizabeth II Celebrates 65 Years As Monarch: Look Back At Britain's Longest Reign


A 41-gun royal salute in central London park, an issuance of 5-pound coin, and a private celebration in her country estate at Sandringham 110 miles north of London marked the Sapphire Jubilee of the world's longest-reigning monarch on Monday.

Elizabeth II, who acceded to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952 has become the longest-serving British monarch. She is the queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries.

The queen, who turned 90 last year, can add to her long list of titles the recognition as the world's longest-reigning living monarch after Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej died last year.

To celebrate her 65 years on the throne, surpassing even that of her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria who reigned for 63 years, is a feat for a princess who never expected to become queen.

Destiny Called Her To A Lifetime Of Service

Elizabeth's life is one called to be in service of her country and peoples. But the queen never dreamed of it.

She was 10 years old when the course of her life was changed forever. Elizabeth's uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne to follow the dictate of his heart and marry U.S. commoner Wallis Warfield Simpson in 1936. The period was known as the abdication crisis.

Prince Albert, Elizabeth's father, became King George VI. A stutterer and shy, he inspired and led his people through the years of World War II.

The king's health, however, deteriorated and he died in his sleep in 1952, while Princess Elizabeth together with her husband of five years, Prince Philip, were on an official travel to Kenya to represent the king.

On their short stop at Treetops Hotel, Elizabeth received news of her father's death. She became queen at the age of 25 and was crowned on June 2, 1953.

Bringing The Monarchy Closer To The People

The early years of Elizabeth II's rule saw her as a decisive monarch despite being surrounded by advisers, chiefs of whom were her husband and also Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The new queen tread the paths where previous monarchs did not dare.

The televised coronation in 1953 was against the advice of those who surrounded her, fearing that by opening the monarchy to the public, it would make royalty commonplace. It was a decision made out of her conviction that monarchy, amid modernity, must be made relevant and closer to the people.

The following years into her reign signaled the coming of age of the British monarchy — it was close to the people without losing the enigma of the throne. Elizabeth II kept her private life out of the public eye.

Most-Photographed And Most-Traveled World Leader

Her reign has several milestones. She is the most-photographed and most-traveled world leader, and she has met most of the world's top leaders, from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama.

The queen's advanced age does not deter her from performing her royal duties with dignity.

The inscription, the same words the young heir to the throne uttered 70 years ago, on the 5-pound coin issued to commemorate the Sapphire Jubilee summed it all: "My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service."

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