Regal, reliable and resilient, the Queen has already made history countless times during her exceptional reign. But on Feb. 6, she'll set a significant new record when she becomes the first British monarch to reach 65 years on the throne. To reach this new milestone, Her Majesty had to break her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria's record as the longest-reigning monarch. It was on Sept. 9 2015 that the Queen secured this feat, after serving 63 years, seven months and four days as head of the monarchy.
Despite Queen Elizabeth II reaching new heights on the throne, her reign is often compared to that of Queen Victoria. The monarchs shared numerous similarities, from their successful love stories to their unconventional paths to the crown. Here, we look back at two of Britain's most exceptional women in history.
A LOVE MATCH
Victoria was just 16 when she fell for her first cousin, German Prince Albert, deeming him an “angel” who was both clever and determined. Princess Elizabeth was smitten with her cousin, the strapping Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, from the tender age of 13. Both Queens had good instincts, with their chosen husbands proving to be loyal supporters and dedicated fathers. “No mention of the Queen is complete without paying tribute to my grandfather, Prince Philip, who has devoted his life to supporting her,” Prince William one said.
LOTS OF CHILDREN
Victoria and Albert had nine children— five girls and four boys. Prior to Albert’s early death at 42 in 1861, paintings depicted the Royal Family as the portrait of domestic bliss: a virtuous couple surrounded by their cherubic children. Elizabeth and Philip are parents of four, with eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. They took their roles seriously; during her honeymoon, Elizabeth wrote to her parents, “I only hope that I can bring up my children in the happy atmosphere of love and fairness which Margaret and I have grown up in.”
COMMITTED TO THE JOB
Queen Victoria’s reign – 63 years and seven months – literally defined a period of British history: the Victorian era consisted of 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes. It was an “epoch of progress,” as Victoria herself called it. Apart from a period of secluded mourning after her husband’s death, Victoria was an active and present monarch. The same, of course, is true of our Queen, who, at age 90, still carries out hundreds of public engagements each year.
FOND OF HORSES
Victoria, who took to riding to improve her health after her husband’s death, was known for her love of all animals, particularly dogs and horses. The same can be said of our Queen. The modern-day monarch has overseen the breeding of dogs and race horses, and has kept corgis as pets throughout her reign. She also enjoys riding, and attended her annual birthday celebration, Trooping the Colour, on horseback until 1986, when she turned 60.
QUEEN BY CHANCE
Queen Victoria’s father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, was fourth in line to the throne after his older brothers, but none of them had children, leaving his daughter to inherit the throne. Princess Elizabeth’s uncle, King Edward, abdicated – putting the crown on her father’s head, and thus her own.