London – QUEEN Elizabeth II was set to become Britain’s
longest-serving monarch on Wednesday by surpassing the six-decade
reign of Queen Victoria, her great-great grandmother.
The 89-year-old queen, who has ruled Britain for 63 years, seven
months and three days, is expected to give a speech commemorating the
landmark and thanking the public for supporting her.
The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, are scheduled to visit
Edinburgh, Midlothian and Tweedbank and travel by steam train on a
new Scottish Borders railway on Wednesday.
“It is a great honour for us that Her Majesty has chosen to mark this
milestone by leading the celebrations for the opening of the Borders
Railway,” said Keith Brown, Scotland’s secretary for infrastructure.
Dozens more events are scheduled to be held across Britain to
celebrate Wednesday’s landmark, while coins and pottery are among the
commemorative souvenirs on sale.
Born in 1926, the queen has ruled since 1952 when she was 25 years
She and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, have four
children and eight grandchildren.
The queen’s eldest son, Prince Charles, 66, is next in line to the
“Much has happened over the course of the queen’s life,” said an
official biography on the royal family’s website.
“Television has been invented, man has walked on the moon for the
first time and the Berlin Wall has been built and then razed to the
ground,” it said.
Some royal watchers said the queen’s enduring popularity comes partly
from her success in avoiding public controversy.
Royal historian David Starkey went further, angering fans of the
queen last month by claiming she had “done and said nothing that
anybody will remember” in her long reign.
Writing in the Radio Times, Starkey, who has published some 20 books
and fronted several television programmes with royal themes, said the
queen had secured the future of the monarchy by opting to remain
“silent and make no public comment … not just on matters of direct
political controversy, but on anything controversial at all.”
With no written constitution, the rights and duties of Britain’s
modern sovereigns are set by conventions that require the monarch to
be politically neutral and defer in almost all matters to the will of
the elected government.
This system of constitutional monarchy keeps the queen as a largely
ceremonial head of state, allowing the government to pass legislation
and run the country. – ANA