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Elizabeth The Great – The Longest-Serving Monarch In British History

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary has seen many landmarks in her life, and has many abilities: she has lived through the bloodiest war in history; given birth to three sons and a daughter; she has been married to the same man for over 64 years; she lives in a palace; and has accumulated a fortune estimated at over £275 million. Although she is known to be able to hold a conversation in German, she is fluent in French, and the English language is said to be hers, as are the police force, the prisons, and the armed forces. Not bad for a girl who never went to school, much less university.

On September 9 though, Mrs Elizabeth Windsor celebrates arguably her greatest landmark when she becomes the longest-reigning monarch in English history, breaking the record of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who would surely be amused.

Not only has she been on the throne longer than most of the people on this planet have been alive, but at 89, a time when those lucky enough to reach such a great age have long since retired to the comfort of their armchairs, the Queen is still going like an express train. She was born April 21, 1926, although she also has an official birthday. During her long reign she has seen empires rise, and empires fall – including what was left of her own. Revolutions have come and gone. Eleven men and one woman have served as Prime Minister under her; and thirteen American Presidents have served during her reign – the only one she never met was LBJ, probably because during his tenure she was more concerned with motherly duties rather than international affairs of state.

Like all royals, the Queen is a sitting duck for those of a certain political persuasion. She is regularly denounced as a parasite on the nation and above all on the working class, but people who take time to look past this stupid rhetoric usually come away with a different view. To begin with, most of her wealth is held symbolically, and provides employment for many common folk. She is also very much a bird in a gilded cage; she has never been able to let her hair down in public; anything and everything she ever does is scrutinised by the national and international media. How many people could live with that? At some time in our lives, most of us have to meet or even fraternise with people we don’t much care for; for the Queen, this is her working life.

As a constitutional monarch, the Queen rarely speaks on her own account, but she has a quick intelligence which is displayed on the odd occasion. One of these was very odd indeed. In 1982, in one of those scenarios too bizarre for any Hollywood producer to entertain, an oddball named Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace and entered her bedchamber, she showed great presence of mind before the intruder was detained by security.

And in November 2008, when she visited the London School of Economics, she left these highbrow so-called academics flummoxed when she asked them a simple question: if they were so smart, why didn’t they foresee the credit crunch? Had that question be asked by a lesser mortal, even a politician, it could have been dismissed with a smile, but when the Queen asks you something, you have to answer. It took the LSE over seven months to come up with an answer. Of sorts. And it amounted to? A long-winded “We don’t know”. Some have suggested the Queen should sack all the useless bods at the Bank of England and issue all the nation’s credit rather than simply the meagre note and coin issue that bears her head. Alas, that will never happen, but the lady herself is certainly aware of the real issues behind the money fraud.

The Queen has longevity in her genes; although her grandmother died at 81, her mother – the Queen Mother – lived to 101, and would undoubtedly have lived another ten years but for the death of her other daughter, the Queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret. Sadly, Margaret was never queen material, but no one could ever say that of Elizabeth. Don’t be surprised if she is still not only alive but on the thrown 11 years from now. And don’t be surprised either if her Consort is still at her side.

About the author

Alexander Baron