|Queen Elizabeth II in Toronto, c2010. Image: Wikimedia Commons|
Reigning for 65 years does not pass without leaving a legacy, more so unforgettable moments that will remain in the annals of history. Let us relive some of the most unforgettable moments in the long reign of Queen Elizabeth II, including some of the most challenging times that served as her defining moment.
In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at Westminster Abbey. Despite the damp London weather, thousands of merry Britons flocked the streets of London where the royal procession would pass about, hoping to catch a glimpse of their beloved sovereign. About 10 thousand servicemen – a quarter of them “soldiers of the Queen” from the Commonwealth – joined in the coronation procession. Heads of states from around the world also came to London to honor Her Majesty. In fact, length of her coronation was such that it took almost an hour to pass any one spot. Likewise, about 100,000 seats were built along processional route aside from the 7,000 seats reserved at Westminster Abbey.
First year on the throne—The Commonwealth World Tour
Queen Elizabeth II immediately embarked on her first and longest tour in November 1953, together with the Duke of Edinburgh. Dubbed the World Commonwealth Tour, it lasted until May 1954 spanning over 40,000 miles, one that took her to different Commonwealth states, including West Indies, Australia, Asia, and Africa, one that ended in Gibraltar, Her Majesty’s first and only visit to the disputed territory.
Silver Jubilee Celebrations
In 1977, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Silver Jubilee. On June 7, a Thanksgiving Service was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Joining her were members of the British Royal Family, as well as world leaders including U.S. President Jimmy Carter and then-Prime Minister James Callaghan. Also present were the Queen’s former prime ministers: Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Wilson and Heath. The procession proceeded to Buckingham Palace after the Service, where thousands of people lined the streets to greet Her Majesty and bid her their greetings. In the other parts of Great Britain, street parties were organized. About 4,000 street and neighborhood parties were organized to celebrate Her Majesty’s special milestone.
The Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer
The wedding of Prince Charles to then 20-year-old Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981, was a global spectacle that made it the “Wedding of the Century.” Many years, afterwards, that fateful day that transformed a shy lady into the world’s well-loved "Queen of Hearts" continues to capture every girl’s imagination that a dashing prince will one day come and propose for a fairy tale wedding that’s bound towards happily-ever-after.
1992: Annus Horribilis
The year 1992 was supposed to be celebrated because the Queen reached her 40th year on the throne. It was, however, overshadowed by a series of events, making 1992 the “annus horribilis” in the annals of the British Family. Three events happened that placed the monarchy at its most troublesome year: the Charles-Camilla affair that led to the separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales, the scandal involving the Duke and Duchess of York, and the fire at Windsor Castle.
Death of the Princess of Wale
The year 1997 was another trying time for the Queen. In 1996, the Prince Charles and the Princess of Wales were divorced. On August 31, 1997, while eluding the paparazzi in Paris, Diana and her boyfriend, Harrod’s heir Dodi Fayed died in a car crash. Queen Elizabeth was then enjoying a holiday at Balmoral when news broke of the Princess’ death. However, the Royal Family, particularly the Queen, was criticized for not sympathizing with the public. Pressures from public outcry of seclusion compelled the Queen to appear on a live broadcast where she expressed her admiration for Diana and her feelings "as a grandmother" for Princes William and Harry. The Queen’s act eventually caused public hostility to subside.
The Golden Jubilee
While 2002 saw the death of Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, these, however, did not dampen the celebrations of her Golden Jubilee. The festivities were capped by the Queen’s extensive tour of her realms. The three-day Jubilee celebrations in London welcomed a million people each day, a testimony of the public’s never-ending love for the Queen. The number was surpassed any estimates made by the press.
The Diamond Jubilee
In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. Other than her, only two other monarchs managed to reach 60 years on the throne: King George III and Queen Victoria. On her Accession Day message, she pledged: "In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service…” The lighting of Jubilee beacons on June 4 around the world highlighted the celebrations. Together with Prince Philip, Her Majesty embarked on an extensive tour of the United Kingdom, while children and grandchildren, meanwhile, touredthe Commonwealth realms. On December 18, 2012, the Queen achieved another milestone after becoming the first British sovereign since George III in 1781 to attend a peace-time Cabinet.
2016 : The Queen Becomes the Longest-Reigning British Monarch
Queen Elizabeth II surpassed Queen Victoria’s reign to become the longest-reigning monarch in British History. On making another landmark in her life and reign, Her Majesty mentioned that the title was "not one to which I have ever aspired."
Speaking before a gathering crowd in the Scottish Borders, she said: "Inevitably a long life can pass by many milestones - my own is no exception - but I thank you all and the many others at home and overseas for your touching messages of great kindness.”
2017: Sapphire Jubilee
The Queen set another milestone in 2017 as she celebrated her 65th year on the throne. No other British sovereign has ever reached this milestone, a feat that future monarchs would find hard to beat. The Queen and the British Royal Family celebrated the event quietly, marked by 65-gun salute on Accession Day.