Longest Reigning Monarchs: Where Queen Elizabeth II Fits


This week, the U.Okay. is celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne. She rose to the throne in 1952 on the age of 25 upon the loss of life of her father King George VI. Per TIME’s Feb. 18, 1952, story on the transition of energy, “as British officers, for the primary time in 51 years, directed their wardroom and regimental toasts ‘to the Queen’ as a substitute of ‘to the King,’ Britons felt of their bones that Elizabeth will probably be good for them.” In her honor, there will probably be quite a few celebrations and a four-day bank holiday from June 2 to June 5.

“She’s grow to be the longest-reigning monarch in British and Commonwealth historical past,” as Carolyn Harris, historian and writer of Elevating Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting, places this milestone in context. The earlier record-holder was Queen Elizabeth’s great-great grandmother Queen Victoria, who dominated for about 64 years from 1837 to 1901 and was identified for being a trendsetter, popularizing every little thing from white wedding dresses to photography.

The world’s longest reigning monarchs

The Platinum Jubilee takes on much more significance contemplating her longevity amongst all royals worldwide. Queen Elizabeth is the world’s third longest ruling monarch, not less than in fashionable historical past. She is 2 years away from turning into the longest reigning monarch in Europe. The present record-holder for longest-reigning monarch is French King Louis XIV, who dominated as an absolute monarch for roughly 72 years from 1643-1715, starting when he was about four years old. Based mostly out of his palace in Versailles, he engaged in three wars and was a staunch patron of the humanities, supporting writers like Molière throughout a interval nicknamed “Le Grand Siècle” “the Nice Century.”

After Louis XIV, the subsequent longest reigning monarch is Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), who was on the throne for about 70 years from 1946 till his loss of life in 2016. “Our energy lies in our nationalistic feeling,” King Buhumibol instructed TIME in a Might 27, 1966, cowl story through which the journal reported that “The boys who run Thailand are nicely conscious that their youthful King is their—and the nation’s—best residing asset.” A multi-billionaire, he was also referred to as one of the world’s richest royals. The Council on International Relations says Bhumibol’s “best achievement” was putting the monarchy “on the heart of Thai politics and tradition,” and making it “an essential mediator of political disputes.”

Franz Joseph I used to be one other notable long-reigning monarch. He dominated Austria for about 68 years from 1848 to 1916, passing away in the midst of World Warfare I. Throughout his reign, Austria and Hungary grew to become a joint empire, and he served as Austria’s emperor and Hungary’s King. In 1914, he issued an ultimatum to Serbia that catalyzed World War I.

Lengthy might she reign

Lengthy-reigning monarchs can abdicate the throne, although it’s uncommon. In 2014, Spanish king Juan Carlos handed over the throne to his son Felipe VI after 39 years, following financial scandals. However British monarchs don’t typically abdicate. That’s due to the kind of coronation ceremony they take part in, Harris argues.

“For Felipe VI, that was a secular set up of a head of state moderately than a spiritual coronation. For Queen Elizabeth, it was a spiritual coronation ceremony, and in order that very clearly married her to the function for all times,” says Harris. “So we have now seen abdications elsewhere—in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain and Qatar, as nicely within the Center East—however it’s not one thing we’re prone to see in the UK.”

One exception was in 1936, when King Edward VIII abdicated so he may marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. That call put Queen Elizabeth’s father on the throne, leading to her turning into monarch after his loss of life.

Queen Elizabeth‘s successor, her oldest son Prince Charles, is just not prone to reign for practically so long as she does. Charles is already 73—having been born simply three years earlier than she ascended to the throne.

To Harris, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee marks a possibility to have a good time the steadiness of the British monarchy. She has met 13 U.S. Presidents and overseen 14 British Prime Ministers. “When you’ve got a 70-year reign, there’s that chance to mirror on the political, social and cultural change over time and the Queen’s function as a determine of continuity during times the place in any other case there’s been an amazing quantity of change,” Harris says.

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Write to Olivia B. Waxman at olivia.waxman@time.com.

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