Queen Elizabeth II: The life and legacy of Britain\'s longest reigning monarch IBTimes UK

Queen Elizabeth will become Britain's longest serving monarch today when she passes a milestone set by her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria.

The 89-year-old became Queen 63 years and 217 days ago after her father King George VI died in his sleep at approximately 1am on 9 September, 1953. It is estimated she will overtake Victoria at 5.30pm (BST).

Despite the milestone, Buckingham Palace has said the Queen will press ahead with her previously scheduled royal appointments, and along with the Duke of Edinburgh will visit Edinburgh, Midlothian and Tweedbank to officially open the new Scottish Borders Railway.

  • Queen to overtake Victoria at 5.30pm
  • Newspapers mark landmark with bumper issues
  • Prime Minister David Cameron Tweets tribute
  • MPs allotted time in House of Commons to make speeches
  • Bad weather delays the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh
  • The monarch boards the Union of South Africa for Tweedbank

More coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's record reign in our Flipboard magazine


Going to be shutting down the blog at the end of an eventful day. Here's to another 63 years.



With the time past 5:30pm, Queen Elizabeth II has officially become Britain's longest-reigning monarch.

queen Elizabeth II longest reign
Chris Young/AFP


Over on the website, historian and biographer D R Thorpe has written a post on the Queen's relationship with the 12 prime ministers who lead the country during her reign.

Thorpe writes:

"The central assertion about the rights of a constitutional monarch, as defined by Walter Bagehot in 1867, remains as true as ever: 'the sovereign has under a constitutional monarchy such as ours, three rights – the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn.'

"The Queen has exercised all three rights."

You can read the full post here.


While we wait for 5:30pm the time Buckingham Place has down as the official moment when the Queen will overtake her great-great grandmother's reign of 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes, here are some photos of her down the years.

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2 June 1953: Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave to the crowd from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after her coronation AFP
queen Elizabeth II longest reign
April 1976: The Queen poses for her 50th birthday portrait, in Windsor AFP]
queen Elizabeth II longest reign
February 1977: Queen Elizabeth II poses for a special Jubilee picture in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace, after she had delivered the traditional Queen\'s speech at the 1976 official State Opening of Parliament. She wears the Imperial State Crown and the Robe of State. Around her neck is the Jubilee Necklace of diamonds and pearls and the chain is the Collar of the Order of the Garter AFP]
queen Elizabeth II longest reign
24 May 2011: The Queen holds onto her hat in the wind as she speaks with US President Barack Obama at Buckingham Palace, during his two-day state visit Murray Sanders/Pool
queen Elizabeth II longest reign
1 September 2012: Prince Philip, the Queen and Prince Charles cheer as competitors participate in a sack race at the Braemar Gathering in Scotland Russell Cheyne/Reuters

More can be seen via our '63 years in photos' gallery.


More audio footage here, this time from people who have more unusual stories of meeting the square than the usual 'shook her hand at a hospital'.

Queen Elizabeth II thanks public for \'touching messages\' as she becomes Britain\'s longest reigning monarch IBTimes UK

Queen Elizabeth thanked the public for the "touching messages of great kindness" she has received during a rare speech at the opening of the Scottish Borders Railway. She spoke of her gratitude for the messages from home and abroad on.

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: The Royal Standard flies from the window of a British Airways jet as it arrives carrying Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at Joze Pucnik airport on the first day of a two day tour of Slovenia in 2008 Getty

Getting into the royal festivities is British Airways. To mark the 63 years since the Queen acceded to the throne the airlines is offering £63 off flights until midnight Wednesday 9 September 2015 - you can browse the long haul destinations here.


In case you missed the Queen's steam powered rail extravaganza earlier today, here's a photo gallery from the journey. After arriving at Waverley station in Edinburgh 40 minutes late due to fog at Balmoral, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh joined Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on board the Union of South Africa to Tweedbank, where she unveiled a commemorative plaque.


Here is some reaction from the banks of the River Thames as the celebratory flotilla passed towards the Houses of Parliament.


As the Queen continues with her walkabout during this day, here are some of IB Times UK's video coverage of what has happened so far:

Queen Elizabeth II: Monarch rides steam locomotive to mark longest reign

Queen Elizabeth II: Monarch rides steam locomotive to mark longest reign IBTimes UK


David Cameron pays tribute to 'extraordinary' British monarch

Queen Elizabeth II longest reign: David Cameron pays tribute to \'extraordinary\' British monarch IBTimes UK

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Queen Elizabeth officially opening the Borders Railway BBC

The Queen's speech in full:

"The Duke of Edinburgh and I are delighted to be back in the Borders today and especially to have arrived by train. It is wonderful to have witnessed the excitement which the return of the railway has brought here.

We are very grateful for the warmth of your welcome on this occasion. Many, including you, First Minister, have noted another significance attached to today. Although it's not one to which I've aspired. A long life can pass many milestones. Mine is no exception.

I thank you all, and the many others at home and overseas, for your touching messages of great kindness."


As expected, the Queen only gave a few words to mark the "other significant" milestone today as well as the opening of the railway, which she described as "not one to which I've aspired".

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The Royal Barge Gloriana leads a procession along the River Thames Getty
Queen Elizabeth II
The Gloriana passes under Westminister Bridge as part of the River Thames flotilla to mark Queen Elizabeth II becomeing the longest reigning monarch in British history Getty

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The Queen has now arrived at Tweedbank to officially open to new Borders Railway. You can read the IB Times UK's report on the longest new domestic railway for more than a century here.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on board the steam locomotive \'Union of South Africa\' with Scotland\'s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Getty

It is not known if the Queen will be saying a few words or not once she arrives at Tweedbank to mark the historic day.


While we wait for the Queen to arrive at the Scottish town of Tweedbank, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has praised the monarch on behalf of the 53 countries which were formally part of the British Empire.

Sharma said:

The Queen's personal commitment as Head of the Commonwealth is exemplary, and her devotion to advancing cooperation and understanding continues to inspire people of all ages Commonwealth-wide.

As a symbol of continuity during decades of unprecedented change, and by drawing our people together in their rich diversity, Her Majesty has embodied all that is best in the Commonwealth. With vision and dedication her example has encouraged successive generations of leaders and citizens to embrace the promise of the future.

In congratulating Her Majesty on this historic occasion the Commonwealth joins with a fresh sense of common purpose, committed to advancing in practical ways the shared values and principles now set out in the Commonwealth Charter.

There are now 53 Commonwealth member states, compared to eight when Queen Elizabeth II became Head of the Commonwealth in 1952.


Until the Queen arrives at Tweetbank, take a look back at some of IBTimes UK's coverage so far of the Queen's record reign.


The flotilla has got under way along the River Thames. Tower Bridge was raised to mark its beginning as boats make their way to the Houses of Parliament.


Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron says the Queen has reigned with "humility and service" not by claiming "the grandeur of office". He finishes his speech with "long live the Queen".


Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman says how the Queen has gone from "sending telegrams to sending tweets" and has offered "the reassurance of continuity".

She quips that the Queen "rules over more than 140 million people. That is a huge number and almost as many as the Labour Party's registered members".

Queen Elizabeth tributes

David Cameron is in the House of Commons addressing MPs on the Queen's reign. He says she is a "golden thread" that has run through three post-war generations and she "never falters" when performing duties she enjoys - like attending the Highland Games - or ones she might not, like "spending New Year's Eve in the Millennium Dome". The Queen spent December 1999 at the Dome alongside then prime minister Tony Blair.

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THE QUEEN HAS ARRIVED! Along with the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen arrived at Waverley to cheering crowds waving Union Jack flags. She passed the Royal Company of Archers before boarding the Union of South African steam locomotive for Tweedbank.


Bad weather in Balmoral means the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be arrive at Waverley station 40 minutes later than scheduled.

The inclement weather probably means the monarch will boast one of her trademark hats. But which one will she plump for? This gallery of sartorial elegance might provide the answer...

Queen Elizabeth steam locomotive

The steam locomotive Union of South Africa has arrived at Waverley station before departing with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Accompanying the couple will be Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The Queen will officially open the new Scottish Border's Railway, which runs from the capital to Tweedbank.