Today Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-reigning monarch in English history, surpassing the prior title-holder, Queen Victoria. She is now also the longest-reigning female monarch in world history.
Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, she succeeded her father, King George VI, upon his death on 6 February 1952. She was 26. She came to the throne only through a fluke, of sorts: Her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936, at which point his next-oldest brother (Elizabeth’s father, George VI) ascended. This “shifted” the line of succession through George’s family (instead of through Edward’s).
Should Elizabeth be on the throne on 27 May 2024 (at which point she’d be over 98 years old), she will surpass Louis XIV of France as the longest-reigning monarch of a major European country. And, should she be on the throne on 17 October 2034 (at which point she’d be over 108 years old), she will be the longest-reigning monarch in world history (surpassing King Sobhuza II of Swaziland).
Long live the Queen!