A Brief History
On September 9, 2015, a new record was broken! On this historic date, Queen Elizabeth II (r. 1952-present) became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. She has now reigned for 63 years and seven months, surpassing the record set by her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria (r. 1837-1901).
Queen Elizabeth II (born 1926) became Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms on February 6, 1952. You may be asking, “Dr. Zar, just how many other Commonwealth realms is she queen of?” Well, let me tell you: the 89-year-old monarch is actually queen of sixteen member states of the Commonwealth! She is also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and the patron of over 600 organisations and charities. She even served as Lord High Admiral from 1964 to 2011.
Nevertheless, unlike her great-great-grandmother who became Empress of India during her long reign, Elizabeth has, unfortunately, relinquished a number of her regal titles over the years, in some cases following violent independence movements. She was, for example, Queen of Ceylon from 1952 to 1972, Queen of Pakistan from 1952 to 1956, Queen of South Africa from 1952 to 1961, Queen of Ghana from 1957 to 1960, Queen of Nigeria from 1960 to 1963, Queen of Sierra Leone from 1961 to 1971, Queen of Tanganyika from 1961 to 1962, Queen of Trinidad and Tobago from 1962 to 1976, Queen of Uganda from 1962 to 1963, Queen of Kenya from 1963 to 1964, Queen of Malawi from 1964 to 1966, Queen of Malta from 1964 to 1974, Queen of the Gambia from 1965 to 1970, Queen of Guyana from 1966 to 1970, Queen of Mauritius from 1968 to 1992, and Queen of Fiji from 1970 to 1987 (Whew, that is a mouthful!). Indeed, the aftermath of the end of her rule of many of these lands has been disastrous (case in point: Uganda under Idi Amin).
As for the places of which she still reigns as a constitutional monarch, well, we count Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom among the most economically and (perhaps ironically given the existence of a monarchy) constitutionally advanced societies in the world today. So, here is a toast to her majesty on achieving this milestone! Now, let us see if she can pass France’s Louis XIV to become Europe’s longest reigning king or queen…
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you consider Elizabeth II to have been a “good” queen? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please read:
Charles River Editors. Queen Elizabeth II: The Life and Legacy of Britain’s Second Longest Reigning Monarch. Charles River Editors, 2015.