Today is the 85th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, who has already for several years been the oldest monarch in British history. The actual birthday will as usual not be officially commemorated (the Sovereign’s Birthday Parade taking place in June), but with Prince Philip she will attend the Maundy Thursday service, this year held in Westminster Abbey.
Last week she was forced to cancel her attendance at a service for the Royal Victorian Order due to a heavy nosebleed, which for many people of her age would supposedly mean hospitalisation. Yet she was able to recover fast enough to attend the subsequent reception.
This was the first time in five years or so that the Queen of Britain cancelled an engagement for health reasons and as we know she remains active in her old age. In eight days she will host the wedding of her grandson Prince William and Kate Middleton and she also has several other important engagements awaiting her this year: she will host a state visit from US President Barack Obama and herself make a state visit to Ireland, the first visit by a British monarch to that nation in a century. Furthermore she will visit Australia in the autumn and on 12 June she will attend the belated celebrations of Prince Philip’s ninetieth birthday, which actually falls on 10 June.
On 14 May Queen Elizabeth II will pass another milestone by becoming the second longest reigning monarch in British history, bypassing her great-great-great-grandfather George III by one day. If she lives until 11 September 2015 she will become the longest reigning monarch in British history, having reigned one day longer than her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.
Meanwhile Prince Charles yesterday passed a similar milestone when he bypassed his great-great-grandfather Edward VII as the person who has been first in line to the British throne for the longest time. Whereas the future Edward VII was heir apparent from his birth on 9 November 1841 until the death of his mother on 22 January 1901, the current Prince of Wales has been first in line to the throne since the accession of his mother on 6 February 1952. (However, as it was only in 1958 that he was created Prince of Wales, he is not yet the longest-serving Prince of Wales, a position still held by Edward VII, followed by George IV).
On a more private note it has been confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh yesterday had lunch with Michael and Carole Middleton, which was their first meeting with the parents of the soon-to-be Princess.