Queen Elizabeth II passed Queen Victoria as the longest ruling monarch of the United Kingdom this Wednesday. Queen Victoria ruled as sovereign of the United Kingdom for 63 years, seven months and two days.

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in June 1953, following her ascension to the throne after the death of her father King George VI’s in February of the previous year. She was just 25 when she took the throne. Her coronation was a spectacular event, the first coronation to be broadcast on television and radio to people across the globe.

Twelve Prime Ministers have served under Queen Elizabeth II, and she has seen enormous global change in her long rule including significant British cultural exports, from Harry Potter to The Beatles.

Queen Elizabeth is celebrating this momentous occasion in Scotland, where she stays in her estate at Balmoral each summer. She spoke at a ribbon cutting for the newly minted Borders Railway there, thanking the crowd for their support and well wishes.

In London and other parts of the United Kingdom however, there have been more public celebrations to honor the Queen’s long reign.

Particularly in London, where a parade of ships and boats made their way down the Thames culminating in a gun-salute to honor the Queen. Tributes to Queen Elizabeth II have also come pouring in from Prime Minister David Cameron’s tribute to her in Parliament, to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s remarks. It is also reported that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, are in Scotland and will be joining Her Majesty for a private celebration later.

Queen Victoria was Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great-grandmother, and before today the longest ruling monarch of the United Kingdom. She ascended to the throne at 18 years old, and presided over the expansive British Empire. Queen Victoria’s British Empire included roughly 400 million people across the Commonwealth. Throughout her reign she worked alongside ten Prime Ministers. Queen Victoria died at age 81, leaving behind nine children and many grandchildren.

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