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BRIT Review

The Longest Reign

Tuesday, September 08, 2015


Queen Elizabeth II has overtaken Queen Victoria, to become the longest serving Monarch. Together they have reigned for over 125 years.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen VictoriaSince 1952 there has been immense change within the UK and the Commonwealth.

Throughout this time Queen Elizabeth II, who took the throne, aged 25, has been a constant, stoic and steadfast figure.

Queen Victoria, who served for 63 years, seven months and two days, was the current Queen’s great-great-grandmother and took the throne at just 18 years old. 

Here, we compare the reigns of these two great women in history.

Their Backgrounds

Queen Victoria was the last of the monarchs from the German House of Hanover. She had nine children. Four of her children with Prince Albert became sovereigns or married sovereigns.

Queen Elizabeth is a descendant of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which was renamed the House of Windsor during World War One. At the time a Princess, Elizabeth married Prince Philip and went on to have four children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Andrew, Duke of York and Edward, Earl of Wessex. The Queen is the only monarch to have celebrated a diamond wedding anniversary.


With limited communications, approximately 400,000 people gathered in London for the coronation of Queen Victoria. Things had clearly moved on significantly when an estimated 27 million people in Britain watched Queen Elizabeth’s coronation on TV and 11 million listened on the radio.

State of their Nations

Queen Victoria’s reign also witnessed a significant increase in the population. In 1837 - the population of England, Scotland and Wales was 16 million. On her death on 22 January 1901, there were 32.5 million people living in England and Wales.

In 1952, the UK population stood at 50 million. This figure is now well over 63 million. Although Queen Victoria’s empire covered a quarter of the world due to limited transportation and personal preferences it was rarely visited. By contrast today’s Queen has visited 116 countries on official trips.

Extent of their Rules

Queen Victoria, through the British Empire, ruled over 400 million people across the globe. Today’s Queen, through the Commonwealth, is Head of State for 138 million people.

Their Prime Ministers

Queen Victoria’s reign included 10 UK prime ministers. She outlived all but two. Due to the politics at the time, William Gladstone served as her prime minister on no less than four occasions.

12 prime ministers have served Queen Elizabeth with Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair serving the longest terms.

Queen Elizabeth also rides in the same coach used by Queen Victoria for the State Opening of Parliament.

Archbishops and Popes

Queen Victoria oversaw six Archbishops of Canterbury and three popes during her reign. 

Queen Elizabeth’s reign has so far seen seven archbishops and seven popes.


When Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952, Stalin was leading the Soviet Union and Harry. S Truman elected President of the United States. 

Since this time the Queen has shared the world stage (and often met) with figures such as President John Kennedy, Nikita Krushchev, Fidel Castro, Charles de Gaulle, Nelson Mandela and Indira Ghandi and been served by Prime Ministers such as Sir Winston Churchill.


It was Queen Victoria who bought Balmoral in Scotland. This has remained a favourite estate for Queen Elizabeth to enjoy rural life. Queen Victoria also owned Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Queen Elizabeth’s wealth is estimated at £340 million.

Coins in circulation

During Queen Victoria’s reign, the Royal Mint produced around 2.5 billion coins. This has increased significantly under todays queen with 68 billion coins produced (8.1 billion pre-decimal coins and 60.3 billion decimal coins) since the coronation.

Assassination Attempts

There were seven attempts to kill or assault Queen Victoria during her lifetime. There has been only one attempt on the life of Queen Elizabeth when blank bullets were fired during a Trooping the Colour ceremony in 1981. 

Find out more

Explore our Queen Elizabeth II pages to find out about today's monarch and the royal family. You can also find out more about Queen Victoria. 


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