Elizabeth II: The First British Monarch to Reach 70 Years on the Throne

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom celebrates 70 years on the throne, making her the first ever British monarch to reach a platinum jubilee.

She ascended the British throne on February 6, 1952 at the age of 25 (she was born on April 21, 1926) on the death of her father, King George VI. 

The Queen is also the first British monarch after King George I, who was not in the British soil at the time of the accession. 

The then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in Kenya when King George VI died on February 6, 1952

She was in Kenya with her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the time of her father's death. It was Prince Philip who informed her on the king's death at home. She left Britain a princess and returned a Queen.

If she will still reign on May 30, 2024, the Queen will surpass King Louis XIV of France, known as the Sun King, as Europe's longest reigning monarch.

Family portrait to mark Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip's official engagement in July 1947

Before her, it was her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, who was the longest British sovereign, reigning for 64 years.

The Queen's Official Titles

Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Supreme Head of the Church of England, Supreme Governor of the British Knighthood, and Defender of the Faith.

The Queen in Sandringham the day before her accession anniversary

Why is the Queen titled Defender of the Faith?

But of all the host of titles she hold, it's her last title that often made others get confused. What's the meaning of Defender of the Faith and who gave it to a British monarch?

Before the English Reformation in the 16th century, which happened in part because Vatican City refused to annul the marriage of King Henry VIII to Queen Catherine of Aragon resulting to the breaking of ties between the Vatican and Henry, British monarch was in close ties with the Vatican.

King Henry VIII, who was viewed in history as a religious man, often defended the teachings of the Catholic church against the attacks of Martin Luther. 

He even wrote and published a pamphlet titled "Declaration of the Seven Sacraments Against Martin Luther", defending the papal supremacy against Martin Luther.

As a result, Pope Leo X, called the Great, conferred on King Henry VIII the title "Defender of the Faith on October 11, 1521. It was not retracted even after the king broke ties with the Vatican and established the Church of England.

Since then, all British sovereigns after Henry VIII carried the title "Defender of the Faith".

Family crisis, pain and sorrow

However, as she celebrates a unique milestone of her reign, the Queen also suffered so many setback when it comes to family life. 

Last year, she lost her beloved husband, Prince Philip, to illness, and at 95 became a widow. The Duke of Edinburgh was the biggest fan and supporter of Her Majesty, who stood by her side all throughout her reign.

The Queen lost her beloved husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, to illness in 2021

The Queen called her husband "my rock and my strength who stayed with me through all these years".

The Queen made sure, however, that Prince Philip will still be part of the celebration of her Platinum Jubilee. 

She was spotted lately using his favorite walking stick. She brought the stick to support her strength while slicing her jubilee cake in Sandringham.

Prince Philip had been using this walking stick since 2013

The Queen used Prince Philip's favorite walking stick to support her when she sliced her jubilee cake on February 5, 2022

Prince Philip had been the monarchy's staunchest defender during its most vulnerable times due to numerous controversies. While the Queen is acknowledged as the head of the House of Windsor, the Duke of Edinburgh was the head of her family.

In her message to nation, she acknowledged the unselfish devotion of Prince Philip to her role as husband and consort.

"I was blessed that in Prince Philip, I had a partner willing to carry out the role of consort and unselfishly make the sacrifices that go with it. It is a role I saw my own mother perform during my father's reign", the Queen said.

The Queen and Prince Philip posed for a coronation portrait in June 1953

Prince Philip was the longest-serving prince consort in British history, from February 1952 to April 2021. He retired from public duty in August 2017 but continue to attend important royal events. 

The then Princess Elizabeth and Lt. Philip Mountbatten on the announcement of their engagement, July 1947

Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, the Duke of Edinburgh gave up his Greek and Danish royal title to become a British subject for his marriage to the future Queen Elizabeth in 1947.

He adopted his maternal surname, Mountbatten, after relinquishing his royal title. The Queen returned his princely title and made Prince of the United Kingdom in 1956.

Prince Philip was a devoted consort to the Queen and dedicated his entire life serving the British monarchy

He was the Queen's rock and staunchest supporter

Prince Philip carried his last official royal duty in July 2020 during the turn-over ceremony as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles, passing the role to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

The Queen's platinum jubilee marked with a series of family crisis and controversies. First with the Queen's grandson, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, stepping back from senior royal role after his wife, Meghan bitterly complained of unfair treatment in the British establishment.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were stripped of their royal patronages as a result. Prince Harry was stripped of his military honors and prohibited from wearing his military uniform in public. They were also told to never use the Royal Highness style when performing activities in public.

The Queen's second son, said to be her favorite, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, is facing a law suit in the United States due to a sex abuse accused by Virginia Roberts.

As a result, the Duke of York was also stripped of his royal patronages and military honors. He is also expected to never attend to any of the events and celebrations related to the Platinum Jubilee of his mother.

Monarch for Life

In her official jubilee message, the Queen reiterated her position to serve the British establishment for life as what she promised during her coronation day in 1953. "My life, whether it be short or long, will be dedicated to a life of service". 

She will never abdicate and will serve the British throne for life. 

This is Her Majesty's clear answer to public speculations if she will abdicate this year due to her prime age, and let her son, the Prince of Wales, who at 73, is British throne's oldest monarch-in-waiting, take over the throne.

She will serve as monarch for life. Long live the Queen! Congratulations on your platinum jubilee.

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