On September 9, at 12:30 p.m., ET, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will surpass her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, as the longest-reigning monarch in British history. Victoria surpassed the almost 60-year reign of King George III on Sept. 23, 1896.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has sent congratulations and prayers to Her Majesty. “On behalf of The Anglican Church of Canada I extend congratulations as you become the longest reigning monarch in the history of England,” Hiltz wrote in his letter of August 27. “Along with so many others throughout the Commonwealth, Canadians give thanks for your unwavering devotion to your peoples, your holiness of life and all your good works in the interests of the common good and of peace and concord among the nations.”
The governor general of Canada, David Johnston, and his wife, Sharon Johnston, will host a September 9 celebratory event at Rideau Hall at 1:30 p.m. Marking this occasion, the Bank of Canada, Canada Post and the Royal Canadian Mint will respectively unveil a commemorative bank note, stamp and coin highlighting the historic milestone.
“September 9 will be a perfect opportunity for us to celebrate Her Majesty’s remarkable work and outstanding dedication, as well as the heartfelt connection she has had to Canada throughout her incredible reign,” said Johnston in a media release.
To observe the reaching of this milestone, Dr. Andrea McCrady, dominion carilloneur, will perform a 30-minute recital starting at 12:30 p.m. at the Peace Tower Carillon on Parliament Hill. The recital will include musical pieces reflecting the queen’s life and times.
Elizabeth became queen on Feb. 6, 1952 on the death of her father, King George VI. Victoria ascended the throne on June 20, 1837, and at her death at age 81 on Jan. 22, 1901, she had ruled for 63 years, seven months and two days.
Like her great-great-grandmother before her, Elizabeth has taken a business-as-usual approach to the day, opting for no official celebrations. She will, however, interrupt her annual Scottish holiday to make a September 9 public appearance by opening a new railway line and taking a ride in a carriage pulled by a steam train. With her husband, Prince Phillip, she will officially open Scottish Borders Railway, which re-establishes a rail link between Edinburgh and Tweedbank for the first time in more than 40 years.
Back in 1836, however, the church bells pealed for the demurring Victoria anyway, and apparently she was pleased by some of the many congratulatory telegrams sent her.
Despite the lack of official Buckingham Palace-orchestrated celebrations on September 9, an exhibition of photographs of Queen Elizabeth, from her earliest days on the throne to her appearance at this year’s Order of the Garter ceremony at Windsor, will mark her becoming the U.K.’s longest-serving monarch. Entitled Long To Reign Over Us, it can be viewed outdoors by visitors to Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Edinburgh’s Palace of Holyroodhouse, starting September 9.
Queen Elizabeth is the world’s second-longest serving current head of state after the reclusive King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, 88, who took the throne in 1946. At age 88 in January 2015, the Queen became the world’s oldest monarch after the death of 90-year-old King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.