The Queen has entered the record books as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch after surpassing the reign of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.
The Queen officially broke the record that day. British Prime Minister David Cameron led the rest of the world in paying tributes to her reign, which he described as a “golden thread” running through the generations.
The Queen, who goes by the maiden name, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, was designated the longest serving UK Monarch after spending 64 years on the throne.
She used the opportunity to thank her well-wishers at home and overseas for sending “touching messages of kindness.”
Speaking in the Scottish Borders, the 89-year-old monarch said, “The title was not one to which I have ever aspired.”
At the time she was proclaimed at 5.30pm , the Queen had reigned for 23, 226 days, 16 hours and approximately 30 minutes – 63 years and seven months.
She then majestically and officially opened the new Union of South Africa, an LNER Class A4 steam locomotive built in 1937 in Doncaster, UK.
The train, which was once renamed Osprey in consonance with political situation at the time, is one of six surviving A4s designed by one of Britain’s most famous steam locomotive engineers, Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley, that is currently operational and mainline certified.
Union of South Africa, which the locomotive train was named after, is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa, which came into being on May 31 1910 with the unification of four previously separate British colonies including Cape Colony, Natal Colony, Transvaal Colony and Orange River Colony.
Bogged down by royal traditions in marrying their cousins for love, raised broods of children that thrust them into an unwelcome spotlight, and coped with public criticism about their aloofness and emotional reserve. But among the many parallels that exist between Queens Elizabeth and Victoria, one looms larger than the rest — longevity.
On September 9, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II effectively clinched the position of the longest serving British monarch.
On that date, the Queen did set a new record having reigned longer than her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria, who sat on the throne for 63 years and 216 days.
To commemorate the auspicious occasion, the Queen commissioned a train station as part of activities lined up for the celebration. Business in the Commons was postponed for half an hour so MPs could pay tribute to the Queen who has seen 12 Prime Ministers and 7 Popes during her reign.
On the Thames, a flotilla of historic vessels, leisure cruisers and passenger boats partook in a procession between Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament.
The bridge was lifted as a sign of respect and HMS Belfast sounded a four-gun salute as the BT Tower in central London scrolled the message “Long may she reign”.
The years from 1837 to 1901 when Victoria ruled were markedly different from Elizabeth’s era, heralding the United Kingdom’s transformation into an industrial and colonial superpower.
Although a teenaged Victoria ascended to the throne after decades of previous scandal-plagued rulers and Elizabeth became queen as a young married woman, Britons quickly came to view them in similar lights.
Both monarchs are however, roughly twenty years off from competing with the longest serving rulers of all time namely:
- King Sohuza, of Swaziland: 82 years and 254 days (10 December 1899 to 21 August 1982)
The king, who incidentally had seventy wives and 210 children in the course of his reign, became ruler of the African nation aged only four months old after his father died unexpectedly while he was dancing.
- Bernard VII, of Lippe: 81 years, 234 days (1429 to 2 April 1511)
The longest serving European ruler, the king of Lippe (a small historical state in Germany, part of the Holy Roman empire) was nicknamed the “Bellicose” for his attitude towards his neighbours.
- William IV, of Henneberg-Schleusingen: 78 years, 243 days (26 May 1480 to 24 January 1559)
Inherited the throne when he was five. William’s territory was (again) part of the Holy Roman Empire.Count William IV of Henneberg-Schleusingen, a member of the House of Henneberg was a ruler of the County of Henneberg within the Holy Roman Empire.The son of William III of Henneberg William inherited the County of Henneberg on 26 May 1480 when his father died and reigned until his own death nearly eighty years later on 24 January 1559. He married Anastasia of Brandenburg a daughter of Albert Achilles Elector of Brandenburg.In 1543–1544 William embraced the Protestant Reformation.
- Heinrich XI, of Greiz: 77 years, 103 days (17 March 1723 to 17 March 1723)
- Idris ibni Muhammad al-Qadri, of Tunku Besar of Tampin (Malaysia): 76 years, 239 days (31 May 1929 to 26 December 2005)
There is a small difficulty around establishing al-Qadri’s reign over the small region in Malaysia. His rule appears to have been briefly interrupted in during May 1929, but resumed in June.
- Christian Augustus, of Sulzbach: 75 years, 253 days (14 August 1632 to 14 August 1632)
Augustus appears to have been a relatively benevolent ruler, allowing his subjects to freely choose their religion and promoting his capital as a centre of intellectual learning and printing. Again, Kingdom was part of the Holy Roman Empire.
Christian Augustus was born in Sulzbach in 1622 as the eldest son of Augustus, Count Palatine of Sulzbach. He succeeded his father in 1632. Christian Augustus was a tolerant ruler. He granted his citizens the right to choose their Christian denomination and introduced the Simultaneum, whereby churches had both Protestant and Catholic services. In 1666 he permitted Jews to settle in the Duchy of Sulzbach. Under his rule, Sulzbach also became an intellectual centre and the site of a regionally significant printing industry.
He had a close relationship with his granddaughter Sibylle of Saxe-Lauenburg, wife of Louis William of Baden-Baden and Regent of her sons dominions.
Christian Augustus died in Sulzbach in 1708 and was buried in the Church of St Maria in Sulzbach.
- Mudhoji IV Rao Naik Nimbalkar, of Phaltan state India: 75 years, 253 days (7 December 1841 to 17 October 1916)
Not a lot has been documented about Mudhoji IV Rao or the Phaltan State. However, this Maratha princely state of British India enjoyed revenue estimated at £13,000. The Hindu ruling family was descended from Naik Nimbaji Nimbalkar 1284–1291, a Maratha who received a grant from a Mughal emperor in the 14th century.
Phaltan acceded to the Dominion of India on 8 March 1948 and is currently a part of Maharashtra state, located 110 km South East of Pune. Chhatrapati Shivaji’s first wife Maharani Saibai was from Phaltan and belonged to the Nimbalkar dynasty.
- Bhagvatsingh Sahib, of Gondal state , India: 74 years, 87 days (14 December 1869 to 10 March 1944)
A hugely enlightened man, Bhagvatsingh was highly educated, earning a medical degree at Edinburgh University. He gave free education (to men and women) through to university across his nation and championed women’s rights. His reforms included abolishing the purdah system and removed ‘women’s wings’ in his palaces. He is remembered as one of the most progressive rulers in India’s history.
- Georg Wilhelm, of Schaumburg-Lippe: 73 years, 282 days (13 February 1787 to 21 November 1860)
Again, a relatively enlightened ruler of his time; he abolished torture and serfdom, and was perceived as an advocate for higher education.
However, He was born in Bückeburg the son of Philipp II, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe and his second wife Princess Juliane of Hesse-Philippsthal (1761–1799).
He succeeded his father as Count of Schaumburg-Lippe on 13 February 1787, but due to his age his mother Princess Juliane acted as regent. However Landgrave William IX of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) occupied all of Schaumburg-Lippe except for Wilhelmstein, after invading it to enforce his claim to Schaumburg-Lippe based on Princess Juliane’s supposed morganatic ancestry. The Imperial Court in Vienna however ruled in favour of Georg Wilhelm and ordered Landgrave William IX to withdraw, which he did after a two month occupation.
Schaumburg-Lippe joined the Confederation of the Rhine on 15 December 1807 and was raised to a principality: Georg Wilhelm became the first Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe. In 1815 Schaumburg-Lippe joined the German Confederation. Georg Wilhelm died at Bückeburg and was succeeded as Prince by his son Adolf.
- Karl Friedrich, of Baden: 73 years, 29 days (12 May 1738 to 10 June 1811)
Again, a relatively enlightened ruler for the day: he abolished torture and serfdom, and was perceived as an advocate for higher education.
karl Friedrich, who succeeded his grandfather Karl Wilhelm in 1746, found himself only hesitatingly able to maintain the residence in Karlsruhe. He decided that the already ailing wooden castle would be rebuilt out of stone. The citizens should also be allowed to build their houses out of stone in the future – admittedly following previously circulated plans. The well-built town, now designed to last, lived to see Karl Friedrich as an example of an enlightened, absolute sovereign, who abolished torture in 1769 and serfdom in 1783. The reputation of Karlsruhe as a Court of muse came about not least because of his wife’s (Margravine Caroline Luise, 1723 – 1783) interest in arts and natural sciences. Prominent thinkers, poets and musicians such as Voltaire, Herder, Lavater, Goethe, Klopstock, Gluck and Wieland were among their guests. The “Mahlerey Cabinet” and the margravines specimen cabinet formed the basis of the art gallery and the nature study collections. The still small country, whose existence was threatened by the proximity of the border after the French revolution decided to link its fate to that of France. Baron Sigmund von Reitzenstein, the Baden representatives in Paris from 1796, had urged his often hesitating margrave towards this policy, and so became the true founder of the state of Baden. Between 1802 and 1806 Baden extended itsely from the Main to Lake Constance increasing its size five-fold, while the population quadrupled to one million. On the 8th May 1803 Karl Friedrich announced his adoption of the rank of Elector of his enlarged country, and on the 13th April 1806 that of Grand Duke of the again extended Grand Duchy of Baden. The small residence of Karlsruhe blossomed in a short time into the capital of a medium sized land.