2012 was the 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and she held Diamond Jubilee celebrations to commemorate the landmark date. Eight years later and she’s still there. Easily the longest reigning monarch in English history. And now subject of the Netflix drama – The Crown.
In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II – who you all know from The Crown – had reigned for sixty years. But she still hadn’t reigned as long as Queen Victoria who held her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897 and carried on for another four years. But by 2020, Queen Elizabeth II had beaten all English monarchs in history.
Behind her was Queen Victoria – who reigned for 64 years from 1837 to 1901. Her reign saw the expansion of the British Empire, the creation of huge industrial cities and London’s population explode. She was also declared the Empress of India – a title Queen Elizabeth doesn’t hold because India became independent from the United Kingdom in 1947.
Behind Victoria was George III, who died 17 years before she took the crown. He put in 59 years. George was most famous for presiding over the loss of Britain’s American colonies. That fact is celebrated in the musical Hamilton where George is a figure of fun. In real life he suffered from bouts of madness.
But what about the Middle Ages?
Well, there are two impressively long English reigns. Henry III dominated the 13th century, sitting on the throne from 1216 to 1272. He was nine when he became king and 65 when he died – which was a venerable age in those times. Henry built most of the Westminster Abbey you see today but wasn’t a particularly brilliant monarch.
His reign started inauspiciously with a coronation outside of London as the city had been taken by Louis of France in a daring invasion of England. Henry also had no crown as his predecessor, King John of Magna Carta fame, had managed to lose it fleeing the aforementioned Louis of France.
Edward III came to power in the wake of the crushing of the Templar Order in England and was in power from 1327 to 1377. A monarch with conservative aims – restoring the Angevin empire – he embarked on an aggressive policy towards his neighbours, Scotland and France. The end of his long reign was mired in corruption and a general torpor as he lost his faculties.
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So when it comes to holding on to the crown – Elizabeth II takes the biscuit. She has been on the throne longer than all of them!