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Queen Elizabeth II has been ruling England for 65 years—the longest reign of any British royal. Today, the queen is the only British royal who has celebrated a Sapphire Jubilee. To which we say: pip pip!
Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne when she was only 25 (can you imagine the pressure?) and officially became the longest-reigning monarch in British history on Sept. 9, 2015. The previous record-holder was her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, who ruled for 63 years and 216 days.
Though the queen is 90, she has shown no sign of slowing down, and celebrated the day as she always has: at her country estate in Norfolk, England, which is about 110 miles north of London. While Accession Day, as it’s known across the pond, is a joyous day for the most part, it also carries some somber undertones.
February 6 not only marks the day Queen Elizabeth took the throne. It’s also the anniversary of her father’s death—King George VI passed away in 1952. According to British monarchy historian Carolyn Harris, QE2 and her father were quite close.
“She views the anniversary of her accession as an opportunity to remember him,” Harris said in an interview with TODAY. Harris is also the author of the upcoming book, “Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting.”
Though the queen herself celebrated quietly, the country abounded with tributes, including gun salutes in London and a commemorative coin series from the Royal Mint. The series includes a five pound coin that features a state crown on one side and a famous quote from a 1947 speech by Elizabeth herself (then merely a princess), saying, “My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”
Over the past few years, Queen Elizabeth has delegated more and more royal duties to her children and grand children. Despite her age, however, she continues to keep a busy schedule of public appearances and engagements.
“She has reigned for such a long time that it is difficult for the public to imagine anyone else in her role,” Harris said.
Indeed, we say. Long live the Queen! And her excellent hats.