LONDON — She has lived longer than any of her predecessors, seen a dozen prime ministers come and go and presided over six decades of British history – from postwar recovery to the death of Princess Diana and terror attacks on London.

On Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-reigning monarch in British history as she beats the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria – 63 years and 7 months – more than a century ago. Only four other British kings and queens have reigned 50 years or more.

“You have to be a certain age to remember a time when she wasn’t the queen,” said royal historian and commentator Hugo Vickers.

The only monarch most living Britons have ever known, Elizabeth has been the constant heart of British life since she came to the throne as a young woman aged 25.

Much has changed since then. When she married Prince Philip in 1947, Britain was still in the grips of post-World War II austerity – the couple’s wedding cake had to be made from ingredients sent as wedding presents from abroad. In 1953, when she was crowned in Westminster Abbey, television was a novelty and British colonies were still dotted around the world. By the 1990s, the empire had all but vanished.

Elizabeth is the last generation of British royals to be educated at home, and the first monarch from the country to have sent an email (1976) or a tweet (2014).

She has worked with 12 British prime ministers – from Winston Churchill to David Cameron, who was not even born at the time of her coronation – and continues to carry out public engagements and travel at age 89.

While Elizabeth is instantly recognizable and held in endearing regard by her subjects, her personality and views remain an enigma to most. As constitutional monarch she must keep mum on political affairs, and only rarely does she let her thoughts be known. Days ahead of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, she remarked that she hoped voters would think “very carefully about the future.”

Some argue that reticence and neutrality form part of her appeal.

Palace officials say there will be no fanfare on Wednesday, when Elizabeth officially becomes Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. Officials say the queen wanted the occasion to be a low-key affair, and that the day will be “business as usual.” Elizabeth is expected to be staying in her Scottish home, Balmoral Castle, and will take a steam train journey from Edinburgh with Prince Philip to open the new Borders Railway.”

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.