When I was a lad of eight, Queen Elizabeth II visited our small city in rural Australia during her 1977 silver jubilee tour.
Along with my school mates we lined up at a cricket oval for the honor of seeing Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Many of the kids did get to speak to the Queen, who I can still see in my mind’s eye genuinely smiling, as she made her way through an orderly tunnel of well-wishes young and old.
We only had to stand behind white chalk lines as we welcomed her, there were no barricades, no hysteria and no mass media then. It was all very personal and dare I say it wholesome. I doubt the same would be possible today.
This week Britain celebrates the fact that the 89-year-old Queen on Wednesday became their longest serving monarch, passing the record set by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria who reigned for 63 years and 7 months.
See the below video which gives a broad overview of Elizabeth’s reign:
Elizabeth became Queen while she was on an official visit to Kenya in 1952, when her father, King George VI, died of lung cancer. A year later her coronation was held and it was one of the first major public events to be broadcast via British TV.
At that time Winston Churchill was still prime minister and since then Elizabeth has received 12 different British prime ministers.
During her time on the throne, Elizabeth has got to meet all the serving U.S. presidents apart from Lyndon B. Johnson and has met 7 popes. She also launched over 20 ships, sat for 130 portraits and conferred over 400,000 honors in what is a symbolic role.
See this video below on how much the Queen has changed over her 63 years on the throne:
Decades later Elizabeth remains with us doing her duties, having taken some hard knocks along the way including the public disintegration of the marriages of three of her children.
Despite all of that, Elizabeth has managed to steer the monarchy through decades of dizzying change while remaining above politics and innuendo.
“Over the last 63 years, Her Majesty has been a rock of stability in a world of constant change and her selfless sense of service and duty has earned admiration not only in Britain, but right across the globe,” Prime Minister David Cameron said according to AP.
In fact, it would be hard to imagine a Britain without her. Long live the Queen.
See an old newsreel covering Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne below: