As the world waits for The Queen to become the longest-reigning monarch in British history, Royal Central takes a look back at Her Majesty’s reign through the decades.
In honour of this historical day, I asked a few individuals that are well known to all royal followers the following question: “As The Queen becomes the longest-reigning monarch in British history, what would you say is your favourite moment (it may be hard to narrow it down but the first that comes to mind) from Her Majesty’s 63 years as sovereign?”
Dickie Arbiter, former Press Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II and media manager for Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales:
“I was part of the team that arranged a theatre away day for The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. After a full day of visiting venues all things theatrical, I recommended that the day ends with a visit to the musical Oklahoma. It was the first London musical she saw with her parents in 1947 and obviously enjoyed it as much 52 years later as she tapped and tapped her feet in time to the music.”
Victoria Arbiter, Royal Insider and CNN contributor:
“Given the magnitude of the Queen’s reign there have been countless defining moments, regal firsts and extraordinary accomplishments, but the occasion that shall forever stand out to me offered a glimpse into a side of our sovereign’s character so rarely divulged, her sense of humour. Picture the scene: an opulent corridor, a close-up shot of black patent dress shoes marching past panting corgis. A knock at the door, a gentle cough and a quarter profile shot of a peach-clad, silver-haired lady had the global viewing audience on the edge of its seat…surely that’s not her, it can’t be her! When the Queen turned to greet James Bond during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, the country emitted a collective gasp of disbelief before erupting into raucous cheers. In lieu of simply showing up, our head of state proved there is always room for another first. She had embraced the event with a subtle tongue-in-cheek performance that no other global leader could have ever pulled off. It was magic!”
Phil Dampier, author and journalist who has written about the royal family for 29 years:
“One of my favourites was when she thanked D-Day veterans on the 60th anniversary in Arromanches in 2004.”
Grant Harrold, Grant Harrold, Former Butler to The Prince of Wales, currently runs a Royal Household & The Royal Butler School in addition to instructing etiquette courses:
A favourite moment of mine was the first time I met the Queen. For me, it was a personal dream come true. To meet this amazing and wonderful lady. What’s even more amazing is I was introduced to her by the Prince of Wales. HM was lovely and right away I could see she had a lovely sense of humour. I was lucky enough to meet her and look after her on many occasions too over forthcoming years, during my time with the Prince. I was also lucky enough to dance with her at Balmoral Castle.
Mind you, 63 years of history would require a book-length article, so these are just some of the highlights from each decade.
In 1952, the unexpected death of King George VI changed the Princess Elizabeth’s life forever. At the age of 25, with two small children she came to the throne.
The decade would have the new Queen busy with travel. Her Majesty made State Visits to Panama (1953), Libya (1954), Norway (1955), Sweden (1956) and several in 1957 including, Portugal, France, Denmark and The United States. She would her first decade as sovereign visiting Denmark in 1958. Her Majesty also made 16 Commonwealth from 1952-1959.
The family grew again in 1964 with the addition of a third son, Prince Andrew.
Her Majesty would see her first Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill pass away in 1965.
In 1969, the first TV programme about The Royal Family was produced and broadcast to over 23 million people. ‘The Royals’ gave the country a peek inside the families daily life. Unfortunately, it is locked away in a vault at the BBC, never to be aired since.
Also in 1969, The Queen would proudly crown her son Charles as The Prince of Wales in a televised ceremony at Caernarfon Castle.
Travel for The Queen in this decade began with a State Visit to Nepal in 1961, Vatican City in 1961 and ended 12 visits later in Austria in 1968.
Commonwealth visits kicked off with Cyprus in 1961. From there she visited Commonwealth countries ranging from Canada to Ghana. A total of 28 visits were undertaken, 29 if you count refuelling in Canada in 1966 on the way to Barbados.
In 1972, The Queen and Prince Philip celebrated 25 years of marriage.
1973 would see her daughter, Princess Anne, wed fellow equestrian Mark Phillips.
In 1977, The Queen’s Silver Jubilee was marked with celebrations at every level throughout the country and Commonwealth.
1977 would also be a memorable year for Her Majesty as she became a grandmother for the first time upon the arrival of Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne.
1979 would see the two most important positions in the county occupied by women. With The Queen as monarch and Margaret Thatcher becoming the first female prime minister in British history.
This decade was quite the record for mileage. Commonwealth visits totalled 54 during the 1970’s including the 1976 Summer Olympics in Canada.
A total of 25 State Visits took place from Turkey in 1971 to Zambia in 1979.
Her Majesty would welcome her first granddaughter into the world in 1981 when Princess Anne gave birth to her daughter Zara.
1981, of course, would see the Royal Wedding of the century when Prince Charles married then Lady Diana Spencer.
1982 the world was introduced to Prince William and Her Majesty would see her son Prince Andrew pilot a helicopter during the Falklands War.
1984 a third grandson was born with the birth of Prince Harry.
The summer of 1986 saw yet another royal wedding when Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson.
The Queen would welcome her second granddaughter when The Duke and Duchess of York had Princess Beatrice in 1988.
Another busy travel decade with 23 State Visits including Vatican City and The United States. The Commonwealth visits totalled 42 ranging from Austrailia to Malaysia.
The new decade began and The Queen welcomed her sixth grandchild with the birth of Princess Eugenie of York.
1992 would prove trying for The Queen as her children’s marriages started to unravel and Windsor Castle severely damaged by fire. 1992 would be the year of the famous ‘Annus Horribilis’ speech The Queen delivered during the marking of the 40th anniversary of her accession at The Guildhall.
1994 she would open the Channel Tunnel and later honour the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
The death of Diana, Princess of Wales, would see Her Majesty show the world a side the public never witnessed. In her speech to the country, everyone saw a grandmother showing her concern, love and protection of her two grandsons who lost their mother.
Later in 1997, The Queen was emotional as she said goodbye to her much beloved Royal Yacht Britannia.
But 1997 was not filled entirely with sadness as Her Majesty a The Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary and Prince Edward, wed Sophie Rhys-Jones.
The Queen also launched the first British Monarchy website that year as the monarchy began to become more modernised jumping into the world of cyberspace.
Namibia, South Africa, Poland and South Korea were part of the 22 State Visits in this decade. As for the Commonwealth visits a total of 28 counting the overnight stop in Kenya.
The new millennium brought important events and emotional moments for Queen and country.
2002 would see Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee year but sadly her sister Princess Margaret died in February of that year and then The Queen’s mother a month later.
In 2003, she would welcome another grandchild as The Earl and Countess of Wessex welcomed their daughter, Lady Louise Windsor.
In 2005, she would see her son Charles finally marry then Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Her Majesty would celebrate her 80th birthday in 2006.
The last grandchild of The Queen was born in 2007. James, Viscount Severn was welcomed into the world by The Earl and Countess of Wessex.
The Queen reduced her State Visits travel with the new millennium. State Visits totalled 14, the same for Commonwealth tours. 2002 was a busy year with stops in Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
2010 saw The Queen’s first great-grandchild, Savannah Phillips born to her grandson Peter and his wife, Autumn. Two years later more royal great-grandchildren joined the family. Grandson Peter and his wife welcomed Isla in the spring.
Two weddings of two of Her Majesty’s grandchildren took place in 2011. The first was Prince William and Catherine at Westminster Abbey and then Zara Phillips marrying Mike Tindall at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh.
Of course the main event was in 2012 as the country and world celebrated Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
2013 The Queen would see the third in line to the throne Prince George welcomed by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Another great-granddaughter was born in 2014 when granddaughter Zara Phillips gave birth to daughter Mia.
2015 Her Majesty would welcome another great-grandchild The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed Princess Charlotte into the world.
The current decade saw The Queen scale down State Visits to seven with a visit ti Ireland in 2011 and Germany this past June. She has made only two Commonwealth visits since 2010.
Last but not least, The Queen’s monumental milestone today. Congratulations to Her Majesty as she becomes the longest-reigning monarch in British history. God Save The Queen!
Photo Credits: By BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives from Canada [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons