On 6 February 2019, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch marks 67 years on the throne.
The Queen usually spends the day in private at Sandringham, before boarding a train the following day back to London, ready for another year of official engagements.
The bells at Westminster Abbey rang out at 1.00 pm, and a 62-gun salute was fired at the Tower of London, to mark the Queen’s accession to the throne in 1952.
Princess Elizabeth became Queen on 6 February 1952, whilst staying at Treetops Hotel in Kenya on her way with Prince Philip to Australia and New Zealand for an official tour.
Prince Philip’s equerry and friend Mike Parker gave him a message delivering the sad news that Princess Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, had died at Sandringham.
He broke the news to his wife as they went for a walk in the garden.
The new Queen sent telegrams cancelling the remaining engagements of her Commonwealth tour.
When asked what name she would use, the Queen replied, ‘My own name, of course.’
George VI had been rather ill, as the strain of World War II and post-war tensions had taken their toll. He had lung cancer as he was a heavy smoker. However, he did not recover following an operation and died in his sleep, aged 56, from a coronary thrombosis.
At 2.00 pm, the Speaker, William Morrison, suspended the House of Commons.
‘It having pleased Almighty God to take His Mercy Our Late Most Gracious Sovereign Lord King George of blessed memory.’
Prime Minister Winston Churchill offers his condolences, noted down in Hansard, before the House is adjourned.
The Accession Council met at St James’s Palace at 5.00 pm to draft Queen Elizabeth’s sovereignty, and again at 10.00 am on Friday, 8 February when she was personally present.
‘By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith.’
The Speaker of the House of Commons returns to his seat, having sworn allegiance to the new Queen, before hearing the oaths from other members.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, accompanied by their entourage, left as soon as possible, departing by plane at Nanyuki Airport to Entebbe, Uganda, where mourning clothes were prepared for her.
From Entebbe the royal couple flew back to London, arriving around 4.00 pm on 7 February.
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Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Opposition Leader Clement Attlee and the Duke of Gloucester met the flight and waited as the young Queen disembarked from the jet airliner, and set foot on British soil for the first time around sunset on the following day.
Queen Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, amidst pomp and pageantry – the first to be broadcasted live by the BBC.
Queen of Australia
The Governor-General of Australia, Sir William McKell, issued the proclamation of Elizabeth’s accession as Queen of Australia at 3.00 pm on Friday, 8 February, from the steps of Parliament House in Canberra.
WHEREAS it hath pleased Almighty God to call to His Mercy Our Late Sovereign Lord, King George the Sixth, of blessed and glorious memory, by whose decease the Crown is solely and rightfully come to the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary: We, therefore, Sir William John McKell, The Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Commonwealth of Australia and members of the Federal Executive Council do now hereby, with one voice and consent of tongue and heart, publish and proclaim that the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary is now, by the death of our late Sovereign of happy memory, become Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of this realm and of all her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Supreme Liege Lady in and over the Commonwealth of Australia, to whom her lieges do acknowledge all faith and constant obedience, with hearty and humble affection: Beseeching God, by whom Kings and Queens do reign, to bless the Royal Princess Elizabeth the Second with long and happy years to reign over us.
Given at Canberra this seventh day of February in the Year of our Lord One thousand nine hundred and fifty two, and in the first year of Her Majesty’ s reign. God Save the Queen
Prime Minister Robert Menzies, Opposition Leader H V ‘Doc’ Evatt and the Acting Leader of the Country Party John McEwen, with other members of the Cabinet, were present.
The ceremony took about 10 minutes, followed by the Canberra Band’s performance of ‘God Save The Queen’ and a 21-gun salute.
In Sydney, the Governor of New South Wales, Sir John Northcott, read the proclamation from the steps of Parliament House in Macquarie Street at 5.00 pm.
A year later, Queen Elizabeth was the first reigning monarch to visit Australia in 1954.
Queen Elizabeth became the longest-reigning monarch living monarch, at 90 years, 175 days, following the death of King Bhumilbol Adulyadej (Rama IX) of Thailand, in 2016.
King Bhumilbol Adulyadej had celebrated his Platinum Jubilee in June 2016, four months before his death.
However, Louis XIV of France, holds the record as the world’s longest-reigning monarch as he ruled from 14 May 1643 until his death on 1 September 1715, aged 76: a total of 72 years and 110 days.