Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her 65th year on the throne, after nearly a lifetime of service to country and crown, on Monday. Elizabeth surpassed Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest-serving monarch in 2015 and will become the only British monarch ever to celebrate her Sapphire Jubilee.
Official celebrations of Elizabeth’s Sapphire Jubilee are expected to include ceremonial cannon fusillades at a central London park and at the riverside Tower of London as well as a procession of military horses pulling World War I-era artillery pieces.
But Buckingham Palace confirmed Britain’s longest-serving monarch plans to spend Monday’s ceremonies far from the spotlight at her Sandringham House estate in Norfolk, 110 miles north of London where her father, George VI, after a 15-year-long reign, died of lung cancer at age 56 on Feb. 6, 1952.
Elizabeth never expected to be queen but her life changed forever in 1936 when her uncle, Edward VII, abdicated the throne and his brother, Albert, became king, adopting for his reign the name George VI. Thus, Princess Elizabeth found herself first in line to the throne.
Her father fell ill in Feb. 1952, following which she along with Prince Philip, her husband, went on an official visit to Kenya instead of her father. George VI died on Feb. 6, 1952 and being the heir to the throne, Elizabeth was announced queen at the age of 25.
“For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a princess and after having what she described as her most thrilling experience she climbed down from the tree the next day a queen — God bless her,” her bodyguard, a hunter named Jim Corbett, reportedly wrote in the visitor’s log book.
After returning to England she met with the Lords of the Council for the formal proclamation of her reign as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on Feb. 8, 1952.
On June 2, 1953, her coronation was televised in spite of being advised otherwise and that was huge step forward in the history of British monarchs.
“Televising the coronation was groundbreaking for its time — to bring the monarchy into millions of peoples’ homes against all of the advice of her advisers who said this makes the monarch look too day-to-day, too real. She realized actually this is what she wanted to do, set the tone for her entire reign, making the monarchy relevant and bringing it to the people,” said Roya Nikkhah, the royal correspondent for the Sunday Times.
Elizabeth’s ways of performing her duties with dignity, a major part of her job, has defined her throughout her reign. She had not said anything publicly inappropriate through the 65 years on the throne.
Here’s a look at Queen Elizabeth’s 65 years in the monarchy: