As of just after noon today (EDT), Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning monarch in the history of Great Britain. Sixty-three years, three months, and seven days. Her coronation took place on 2 June 1952, in Westminster Abbey. Her coronation was the first to be televised, and indeed has been the only coronation to have taken place there since the advent of the mass medium of television. (The brilliant Richard Dimbleby narrated.)
When she ascended to the throne, Elizabeth was just 26 years old. Britain’s Prime Minister was none other than Sir Winston Churchill, who had first served Elizabeth’s great-great grandmother, Victoria, who’d been born a year before the death of King George III. America’s President was Harry Truman, eleven administrations ago. Joseph Stalin still ruled the Soviet bloc with an iron fist.
Despite family issues that must have made her cringe, Elizabeth has been a model of dignity and decorum, with the formidable Prince Phillip by her side. Her grandsons, William and Harry, have restored some hope that the lustre of the British Monarchy will remain intact when she is gone.
Princess Elizabeth’s pretty, smiling face was an inspiration to many during the worst of the Blitz, and in the long years of war, where she did real work serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service from 1942 until the end of the war. She has been described as absolutely genuine, with a formidable intellect and a forceful personality when required. She has seen the dissolution of the British Empire, and the reduction of a once-great nation into a bit player in world affairs. The snubs inflicted by the current occupant of the White House must be particularly sad to her, as she lived through some of the most trying times England has faced in centuries, in which the “special relationship” with her former colonies has proven most valuable. Despite it, she has always kept her composure, her dignity, and her regal demeanor.
A recent poll showed that Elizabeth II is considered England’s greatest monarch, and her most popular. I hope she has many more days in her reign. Long live Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II!
Here is the photo I allude to in the comments below. The BBC dates the picture from December of 1936. Absolutely remarkable countenance on a girl of just ten years of age.