Today, September 9th, at 5.30pm, our Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, will become the longest reigning monarch in British history. Her Majesty will supplant Queen Victoria, her great-great grandmother, who reigned for sixty-three years and seven months. From The Queen’s point of view, the event is to be kept very low key, with just a private family gathering to celebrate. Other than that, it will be a normal working day, with The Queen officially opening The Borders Railway in Edinburgh. Bigger public celebrations are planned for The Queen’s 90th birthday next year.
However, the British people rarely miss a chance for a celebration, and events have been planned across the country today. These will include a river pageant along the River Thames, similar to that held to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. At noon, passenger boats, historic vessels and leisure cruisers will sound their horns for sixty seconds before proceeding under the bridges towards the Houses of Parliament. We are told the Prime Minister will make mention of this special anniversary during Question Time in the House of Commons. Many churches, including Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire, will ring their bells at exactly the moment The Queen surpasses the record.
The Royal Palaces are not missing out on the celebrations entirely. Special photographic displays celebrating The Queen’s long reign will be on exhibit at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and The Palace of HolyroodHouse from today until January 2016. A Family Festival called Long to Reign Over Us is to be held at Windsor Castle this Saturday September 12, with storytelling, face painting, dressing up and arts and crafts workshops. On September 19th The Palace of HolyroodHouse in Edinburgh will also host a Family Fun Day called Crowns and Coronations with lots of activities for all the family. A Long to Reign Over Us Souvenir Album has been released as well as a line of celebratory souvenir china.
I have never met The Queen, but I’ve had the privilege of seeing her on many occasions over the years. From the first time at the City Hall in Kitchener, Ontario when I was about eight years old to the many times I have seen Her Majesty in the Royal Parade at Ascot, this is a lady who is always smiling, always on form and always looking beautiful. I have tremendous admiration for this amazing woman, who has given almost her whole life to her duty in her role as Queen, from the moment she began preparing for it when she was a child. The British people and the Commonwealth owe Her Majesty a huge debt of gratitude for her service and devotion to her duty.
Here are some things you may not know about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:
Her Majesty’s full name is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor.
The Queen has an impeccable sense of style and has always been a leader of fashion.
The Queen speaks fluent French and can change a spark plug. She joined the army in World War 2 as a driver and trained as a mechanic before going on to become a Junior Commander. She was on active duty on the home front throughout the war.
The Queen has always embraced technology and sent her first email back in 1976, well before email was a household word. She launched the Royal website www.royal.gov.uk in 1997 and the Royal Channel on YouTube was launched in 2007. The Queen sent her first ‘tweet’ in 2014.
Like so many others today, I want to thank The Queen for her duty and service, for her love of her country, the Commonwealth and her people and for how she has shaped the political landscape over the last 63+ years. I firmly believe Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has made the world a better place and I pray she will continue to reign over us for many years to come.