Saturday, 14 May 2011

On this date: Elizabeth II becomes second longest-reigning British monarch

Today Queen Elizabeth II becomes the second longest-reigning monarch in British history. Succeeding to the throne on 6 February 1952, she has now been on the throne for 59 years and 96 days, one day longer than her great-great-great-grandfather King George III, whose reign lasted from the death of his grandfather George II on 25 October 1760 till his own death on 29 January 1820.
The record still belongs to Queen Victoria, who reigned from 20 June 1837 till 22 January 1901, i.e. 63 years and 216 days. To break her great-great-grandmother’s record Elizabeth II will have to be on the throne until 11 September 2015, at which time she will have reigned for 63 years and 217 days. Given that this is only four years away it seems possible that she might make it.
(The Daily Telegraph marked the occasion two days ago, calculating that she had by then reigned “for 59 years and 95 days plus 15 extra leap-year days, totalling 21,645 days” and thus bypassed George III’s “59 years, 96 days plus 13 extra leap-year days, totalling 21,644 days”. While this reckoning may be more precise, Guinness World Records seem to go by counting full years and days, making today the day Elizabeth II overtakes George III.


  1. Perhaps Queen Elizabeth II was already before this date the second longest reigning British Monarch? Is it not a matter of definition whether King George III was reigning or not the periods the Prince Regent was in power during his father's illness?
    Martin Rahm

  2. No, regencies are never counted when determining the length of reigns. The reign of Louis XIV began in 1643 and ended in 1715 although he was a minor until he reached the age of thirteen. The reign of Harald V began in January 1991 even though he was regent from May 1990. The reign of George III lasted from 1760 to 1820 even though he was under a regency from 1811.


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