Until 9 September 2015, Queen Victoria held the title of the longest-reigning British monarch; on that day, her great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II surpassed her. Elizabeth II is now the longest-reigning British monarch and the world’s longest-reigning current monarch.
Victoria took the throne upon the death of her uncle, King William IV, on 20 June 1837 when she was just 18. Her coronation took place a year and eight days later on 28 June 1838 in Westminster Abbey. During her 63-plus years on the throne, she also held the title of Empress of India from 1 May 1876 until her death. Her long reign would be known as the Victorian era.
Queen Victoria would surpass King George III – her paternal grandfather – as the longest-reigning British monarch on 23 September 1896 when she was 77-years-old. At that point, she had reigned for 59 years, 97 days (George III reigned for 59 years, 96 days).
Of course, becoming the longest-reigning monarch was marked with sadness for the Queen as her beloved husband, Prince Albert, was not there to mark the occasion with her. He had died three decades earlier at the age of 42 in 1861. Her daughter, Princess Alice, had also passed away in 1878 and her son, Prince Leopold, died in 1884, meaning two of her children did not live to see her take the title from George III, as well.
Queen Victoria wrote to her eldest daughter, “Our quiet occupation of Dongola is an immense success and it took place on the day of which the people make so much but which I do not wish to celebrate till my sixty years are full D.V. (Deo volente – God willing). But I have received the most enormous number of telegrams from all ranks of my subjects and Lorne has written the accompanying very pretty lines. I feel and will say publicly that all these blessings are owing to dear Papa’s guidance and tuition.”1
Due to her long time on the throne, Queen Victoria was able to celebrate her Golden Jubilee (50 years) on 20 June 1887, as well as her Diamond Jubilee (60 years) on 22 June 1897. The latter made her the first British monarch to get to celebrate 60 years on the throne. She was less than two years away from celebrating her Sapphire Jubilee (65 years) when she died in 1901.
Only her great-great-granddaughter has reached the Diamond Jubilee milestone, and Elizabeth II was the first British monarch to celebrate the Sapphire Jubilee in 2017. If Elizabeth makes it to 6 February 2022, she will become the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee (70 years) – no doubt making Victoria proud.
Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901 at the age of 81, and at that time, she had reigned for 63 years, 216 days. It would be over a century later before that mark was passed.