Elizabeth Enters Britain's Longest Reign

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September 8, 2015

Queen Elizabeth II is now Britain’s longest-serving monarch. She recently passed Queen Victoria, who ruled for 63 years and 216 days. Elizabeth became Queen on February 6, 1952.

Britain’s longest-serving king was George III, who ruled for 59 years, 96 days, from 1760 to 1820. Scotland’s longest-ruling monarch was James VI, who ruled Scotland for 57 years and 246 days and also ruled England, as James I, for 22 years and 3 days. Llywelyn I of Wales was that country’s longest-ruling monarch, at 45 years.

The longest-serving monarch in recorded history was Swaziland’s King Sobhuza II (left), who was on the throne for 82 years. He became king when he was 4 months old, in 1899, and died in 1982.

Following close behind King Sobhuza was Bernhard VII, who ruled the Holy Roman Empire state of Lippe for 81 years, 234 days, from 1429 to 1511. The Holy Roman Empire features prominently in the list of longest-reigning monarchs, with the third-longest and fourth-longest, respectively, in William IV of Henneberg-Schleusingen (78 years, 243 days, from 1480 to 1559) and in Heinrich XI of Reuss-Obergreiz (77 years, 103 days, from 1723 to 1800). Rulers of states in Indian and Malaysia also feature in the top 10.

The world’s current longest-serving monarch is Thailand’s King Rama IX (right), who ascended to the throne on June 9, 1946. As of 2015, he has reigned for 69 years.

Other well-known long-serving monarchs include the following:

  • Louis XIV of France: 72 years, 110 days (1643–1715)
  • Franz Joseph I of Austria: 67 years, 355 days (1848–1916)
  • Emperor Hirohito of Japan: 62 years, 13 days (1926–1989)
  • Emperor Kangxi of China: 61 years, 316 days (1661–1722)
  • Louis XV of France: 58 years, 215 days (1715–1774)
  • Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands: 57 years, 285 days (1890–1948)
  • Henry III of England: 56 years, 29 days (1216–1272)
  • Edward III of England: 50 years, 147 days (1327–1377).

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