September 9th this year represents an extraordinary milestone in our island story. It is the day on which Elizabeth II becomes the longest-reigning monarch in British history, the day on which she breaks the record held for more than a century by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.
The official beginning of the reign of a British monarch is the moment of the death of the previous monarch (as long as clear succession is obvious and accepted). For every British monarchical changeover of the last two centuries, therefore, there have been two monarchs on a single day.
On June 20, 1837 when first William IV died, the monarchy immediately passed to Victoria who became Queen. The date is not taken from the ceremonial coronation of the monarch, which generally occurs quite some time later. Victoria, for example, was crowned at her coronation on June 28, 1838, just over a year after she became queen.
Taking into account the leap years during the two reigns the Palace have concluded that it is actually the evening of September 9th 2015 when Elizabeth II will become the longest serving monarch.
She also visited Malta four times while Prince Philip was stationed there on naval duties, and enjoyed the life of a naval wife and young mother.
This way of life was not to last long, as her father’s health was deteriorating. In 1952, King George VI’s illness forced him to abandon his proposed visit to Australia and New Zealand. The Princess, accompanied by Prince Philip, took his place.
On Wednesday, 6 February 1952, Princess Elizabeth received the news of her father’s death and her own accession to the throne, while staying in a remote part of Kenya.
When the Queen acceded to the throne Elvis Presley was 17 and Nehru was forming his first government in India. In The Hague Israel was demanding reparations from Germany, and Anne Frank’s diary was published in England.
Sooty made his first television appearance, Churchill announced we had the atomic bomb and Alan Turing was convicted of gross indecency. The Mousetrap had its opening night in London’s west end and tea rationing ended: some things have changed out of all recognition and some remain the same.
During her reign Queen Elizabeth II has seen 12 different Prime Ministers: Winston Churchill (1951-55), Anthony Eden (1955-59), Harold Macmillan (1959-63), Alec Douglas-Home (1963-64), Harold Wilson (1964-70 & 1974-76), Edward Heath (1970-74), James Callaghan (1976-79), Margaret Thatcher (1979-90), John Major (1990-97), Tony Blair (1997-2007), Gordon Brown (2007-2010) and David Cameron (2010-present).
There have been 12 US Presidents during her reign: Harry Truman (1945-1953), Dwight Eisenhower (1953-61), John Kennedy (1961-63), Lyndon Johnson (1963-69), Richard Nixon (1969-74), Gerald Ford, (1974-77), James Carter (1977-81), Ronld Reagan (1981-89), George Bush (1989-93), William Clinton (1993-2001), George W Bush (2001-09), Barack Obama, (2009-present).
The Race Relations Act, the de-criminalisation of homosexuality, Abolition of the death penalty, North Sea oil, Decimal currency, joining the EEC, colour TV, the World Wide Web, the first female Prime Minister, The Beatles, microwaves, Tupperware and olive oil for cooking not just for ear wax.
But all through these changes the Queen has remained unchanging, constant and devoted to her duty.