Wednesday 9 September 2015

Queen Elizabeth II becomes our longest reigning English monarch


At around 5.30 today the Queen surpasses Queen Victoria's reign of 63 years and 216 days and becomes England's longest reigning monarch. 

Or not. King James III reigned for 64 years, from 16 September 1701 to 1 January 1766. He is better known as the Old Pretender, son of King James II, brother of Queen Mary II and Queen Anne, who invaded Scotland to claim his throne in 1715 and is buried in St Peter's in Rome.

In so very many ways Queen Elizabeth II's reign has been the best period in our island story but we lost our empire, our independence, our sense of who we were and many other important things. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. But even though I am, like Dr. Johnson, a Jacobite when I remember, I wholeheartedly say 'God save the Queen'.

Her first prime minister was Winston Churchill, who enjoyed being Lord Melbourne to her Victoria. Stalin ruled Russia and Mr. Truman led the USA. 

In her long reign the Queen never said a word out of place. Except just once. She was talking to some foreign students somewhere and one mentioned that they were going to Manchester. And she said, 'Manchester isn't a very nice place.'

She has, I am told, a lot of influence. Unlike the Duke of Edinburgh who would like us to leave the EU, she believes the advice her Prime Ministers give her about the EU. Unlike the Queen Mother she is colour blind and loves the Commonwealth.

She was angry that Mr. Reagan had toppled the Communist government of Grenada without asking her - she is Queen of Grenada - and blamed Mrs. Thatcher, somewhat unfairly. At her next weekly audience Mrs. Thatcher was not invited to sit down. 

Actually Queen Victoria required all her Prime Ministers to stand except Disraeli. When he was old and weak she let him have a chair. Gladstone, whom she hated - in his 80s when PM for the last time - always had to stand. Keeping Prime Ministers standing is a nice habit that Charles should revive. Politicians should be kept in their place. As should we all.

Queen Victoria, by the way, wanted to do Disraeli the completely unprecedented honour of visiting him as he lay dying, but he declined the honour with what were said to be his last words,

“Why should I see her? She will want to give a message to Albert.”
He had flattered the Queen for years, but now saw no reason to do so.

Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine will still have reigned longer than Elizabeth II has been Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
 if you count the years she was Duchess of Aquitaine. But she was a queen consort and does not count.

The Prince of Wales has waited longer to be monarch than any other heir apparent to the throne and if and when he ascends the throne he will be the oldest sovereign to do so, but he is not the eldest heir to the English or British throne. That was the Electress Sophia of Hanover, who died, aged 83, in 1714, a few weeks before Queen Anne, whose heir under English and Scottish law she was.


  1. “Why should I see her? She will want to give a message to Albert.”

    Very funny :D.

  2. Long live ! I cannot imagine what will come after ...

  3. God please save the Queen...for more wonderful years. She is a treasure, not just for the UK, but for the world.