Queen Elizabeth Is The First British Monarch To Reach Sapphire Jubilee

Laura Grande | February 6th, 2017

Photos: Getty Images

After 65 years on the throne, Her Majesty is now the longest-reigning monarch in British history. Here, we revisit her storied career.

For royal watchers across the globe, February 6, 1952, marked the day Britain warmly embraced a new monarch. But for Queen Elizabeth II, February 6 is only about the solemn reminder of her father’s unexpected death.

While the people rejoice at her momentous achievement with fanfare and commemorative coins from the Royal Mint—this being her Sapphire Jubilee, after all—the queen will instead mark Accession Day in “quiet reflection” at the country estate of Sandringham, the same place her father, King George VI, spent his final days before dying in his sleep at age 56 of coronary thrombosis (a blood clot inside the heart).

Dickie Arbiter, the queen’s former press secretary, told the Telegraph about Her Majesty’s intentions to remain secluded: “It’s important to understand that for the queen this marks the anniversary of the day her father died,” he said. “She has always made it clear that her long reign is a consequence of her father’s early death and so it is not a day for celebration.”

It was during a trip to Kenya with husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, that the then-25-year-old Elizabeth first learned of her father’s death. But due to the remoteness of the location, the news took several days to reach the new queen. The brief respite in Kenya was part of a larger international tour that would have taken the royal couple to Australia and New Zealand. Elizabeth immediately canceled her travel plans and left for London, where she was greeted at the airport by prime minister Winston Churchill.

Elizabeth was crowned on June 2, 1953, in a televised broadcast—the first of its kind for an English monarch.

In 2015, Elizabeth surpassed her ancestor, Queen Victoria, as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. Again, the queen chose not to recognize the occasion, telling reporters it was not a milestone “to which I ever aspired.”

The longest-reigning monarch in history was Sobhuza II, the King of Swaziland, a sovereign state in southern Africa. He came to power in 1899 and ruled for an astonishing 82 years before his death in 1982. More recently, Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, ruled for 70 years until his death in 2016. He came to power in 1946.

But how will the U.K. celebrate the Sapphire Jubilee without the presence of their monarch? According to tradition, a 41-strong gun salute is staged at noon in London’s Green Park by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, complete with celebratory music. The event also features 89 horses pulling six First World War-era guns, followed by a gun salute that will be fired at the Tower of London at 1 p.m.

Click through for more stories on Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.

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The Queen’s Visits To Canada

“In 1953, while staying in Newfoundland, the queen was roused from her sleep at 3:20 a.m. by a crowd singing “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow” outside her bedroom window. We revisit some main highlights of Her Majesty’s trips to Canada over the years.”

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The Royal Purse

“Many magazines have features about what makeup you’ll find in a celebrity’s purse, but the queen’s purse, without which she would not appear over the course of 23,216 days, is the holy grail of this genre. So it is that the longest-reigning monarch in British history and I have something very personal in common: We both favour the same nail polish—Essie Ballet Slipper. No doubt Queen Elizabeth II has a cadre of elite manicurists to tend to the royal fingertips while I apply the paint myself, but still…”

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The Royal Secrets to Longevity

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, celebrated her 90th last year. The longest-reigning British monarch, along with her husband, Prince Phillip, have both exceeded the life expectancy for Canadian women and men—which is 83.3 and 78.8 respectively, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada. But Dr. Michael Gordon, program director of palliative care at Baycrest Geriatric Health Care System, who trained in Scotland and met the Queen’s mother, feels that nowadays, even being in your 80s is not so old. ‘I’m a geriatrician and, in my practice, that’s like late adolescence. She’s not 100 yet. Her mother, the Queen Mother, lived to 101, and there’s a pretty good chance, barring the unexpected, that Elizabeth can get there herself.’…”

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The Royal Family and Sandringham

“The home, built in 1870 by the Prince and Princess of Wales—this prince was later crowned King Edward VII—was meant as a private getaway for the royals and their family. And it has stayed a private home for more than four generations of monarchs and is still the place where her Majesty gathers her kin for their annual Christmas celebrations…”

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6 Style Tips You Can Borrow From Queen Elizabeth

“She is one of the most recognizable women in the world, but while her face might be famous, many recognize her from her manner of dress. Ninety-year-old Queen Elizabeth II is one of those women who possesses a strong sense of style—something she’s honed and cultivated over the years into a look that is singularly and instantly associated with her. Very few people can say that about their personal style and, certainly, no sovereign’s style has been so dissected or debated in public…”

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