Queen Elizabeth II, Monday celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee, making history as the world’s longest-reigning monarch. The 90-year-old monarch, who became Britain’s longest-reigning sovereign in 2015, did not publicly mark the occasion herself, but a 41-gun royal salute was fired in a central London park to honour the landmark.
Breaking a 63 years record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, is expected to spend the day quietly at Sandringham, her country estate 110 miles north of London.
The course of Elizabeth’s life was forever changed in 1936 when King Edward VIII, her uncle, abdicated to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, a twice-divorced U.S. commoner. His brother Albert became king, adopting the name George VI.
And Princess Elizabeth, who had spent the first 10 years of her life never expecting to become queen, suddenly found herself first in line to the throne.
On June 2, 1953, Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey, making her the 39th sovereign to be crowned in the iconic church. Although she officially became queen in 1952 after the passing of her father, King George, her coronation wasn’t until a year later. An estimated 27 million people in Britain watched the ceremony on TV.
On 9 September 2015, Queen Elizabeth II, became the longest-reigning monarch ever. Since coming to the throne, she has held regular audience with 12 prime ministers.
During her reign, the queen has broken new ground for the British monarchy during many of her overseas visits. The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, visited the Lagos City boundary in Nigeria on their way to the city from Ikeja Airport in 1956.
While visiting Canada, part of the British Commonwealth, she addressed the Provincial legislature of Quebec in both French and English in October, 1964.
In 1975, she was the first British monarch to visit Japan. She met Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping and became the first British monarch to walk on the Great Wall of China when she visited the country in 1986.
The queen has also acted as host to many state leaders visiting Britain including former United States President, Ronald Reagan, leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and former South African President, late Nelson Mandela.
In May 2011, Queen Elizabeth II made a historic State visit to the Republic of Ireland, the first by a British monarch since Ireland won independence from the United Kingdom in 1921.
Since taking to the throne, the Queen has met with every sitting US president but one, Lyndon B. Johnson. In April 2009, she welcomed newly elected U.S. President, Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to Buckingham Palace.
Throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth has also has met some of the men and women who helped shape history. Astronauts and first men on the moon, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were invited to meet with the monarch in Buckingham Palace.
In her time on the throne, she has undertaken official overseas visits to more than 120 countries and outlasted 12 British prime ministers and 15 US presidents.