UK celebrates platinum jubilee – only the 3rd in world history
Britain will lead celebrations around the world this weekend as Queen Elizabeth II marks her 70th year on the throne.
The platinum jubilee is an unprecedented event, with no British king or queen having reached this landmark before. Elizabeth, 96, is also the world’s longest-reigning living monarch.
She ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, at the tender age of 25, after the death of her father, George VI, aged 56.
In 2015, she broke the record for the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch, which had been held by her great-great grandmother Victoria, who was queen for 63 years and 216 days.
To achieve the Platinum Jubilee landmark, a monarch must be crowned at a young age, which means Elizabeth’s feat is unlikely to be bettered for many decades to come – if at all. Prince Charles, the next in line to the throne, is now 73.
Tradition dictates that a silver jubilee is held in the 25th year of a monarch's reign. Several British monarchs have celebrated this landmark, including Elizabeth’s grandfather George V, who reigned for 25 years and 259 days. Her own silver jubilee fell in 1997.
The golden jubilee celebration is held for the 50th year of a monarch's reign. Elizabeth celebrated this in 2002 when she was 76 years old.
Although she is the longest-reigning monarch alive today, Elizabeth stands only third in the all-time list. Top place belongs to King Louis XIV of France, who reigned for 72 years and 110 days after ascending the throne aged four and reigning from 1643 to 1715.
The second-longest reigning monarch in history is King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, who spent 70 years and 126 days on the throne.
The next regnal landmark for Elizabeth will be the 80th anniversary of her accession, celebrated as the Oak Jubilee in 2026, when she would be 106 years old.
Before that, she can look forward to becoming only the second person in the UK royal family to reach her 100th birthday, after Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother celebrated her centenary in 2000.
Elizabeth II’s record-breaking reign turned on a quirk of history. At birth she was only third in line to the throne and not expected to become queen.
However, in December 1936 her uncle Edward VIII – a Nazi sympathiser – abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, an American widow. Her father George VI then became king and, since Elizabeth had no brothers, she became heir to the British crown and the commonwealth of nations.