Longest Reigning British Monarchs

The British Royal Family with Queen Elizabeth II in the yellow dress.
The British Royal Family with Queen Elizabeth II in the yellow dress.

The British Monarchy is the type of government in place in the United Kingdom. It means that the government is represented by a king or queen whose responsibilities and powers are guided by a constitution. Although, at one point in history, the throne enjoyed complete power. The monarchy has its roots in ancient times, as far back as the 10th century AD when the Anglo-Saxon England was conquered. “William the Conqueror” gained the crown as the first king of England and this position was inherited by his descendants until the 1600’s. The King of Scotland took the throne in 1604 after the English monarch died without any descendants. There was a decade of Civil War and turmoil between 1649 and 1660 in which there was no monarch and then the Scottish king’s descendants again took power until a Catholic king inherited the crown and was overthrown. His Protestant daughter and son-in-law then ruled jointly. After such long and confusing inheritance practices and two queens with no children, Parliament dictated that the royal crown could only be inherited by Sophia of Hanover (granddaughter of a previous king) and her direct descendants. This policy continues today. Below is a list of which of these monarchs ruled the longest.

Longest Reigning British Monarchs

Queen Elizabeth II

The longest time wearing the crown belongs to the current queen, Elizabeth II. She has been in power since February 6, 1952. During such a long reign, Queen Elizabeth II has overseen many changes in the British government and rule. She has experienced the decolonization of the British colonies, survived an assassination attempt, and seen her country through several wars.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria takes 2nd place for the longest time as ruler. She was the queen of the United Kingdom for 63 years and 216 days from June 1837 to January 1901. She was the first monarch to inhabit London's Buckingham Palace. One of her most difficult years was in 1845 when England suffered a terrible famine, and she watched as millions died and left the country. She is also known for her attempts at improving relations between England and France.

King George III

Queen Victoria’s grandfather, King George III had the 3rd longest rule. His time in the throne lasted for 59 years and 96 days, from October 25, 1760, to January 29, 1820. He was well loved by his kingdom, well educated, and one of the founders of Dartmouth College. During his reign, the United States gained independence and the British rural sector grew as the King ensured investments in industrial development.

Other Kings and Queens

Many monarchs have enjoyed long-standing power. Others with considerably long-reigning times include: King James IV of Scotland (57 years and 246 days), King Henry III of England and Lord of Ireland (56 years and 29 days), King Edward III of England and Lord of Ireland (50 years and 147 days), King William I of Scotland (48 years and 360 days), Queen Llywelyn of Gwynedd (44 to 46 years), Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland (44 years and 127 days), and King David II of Scotland (41 years and 260 days).

Future Monarchs

The heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II is her eldest son Charles, Prince of Wales. Should he not take the throne, or when his reign ends, the next in line is Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Prince William is the eldest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. He has two children who are next in line in the British Monarchy.

The Longest Reigning British Rulers

1Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom64 years, 162 days6 February 1952 to Present
2Victoria of the United Kingdom63 years, 216 days 20 June 1837 to 22 January 1901
3George III of the United Kingdom59 years, 96 days 25 October 1760 to 29 January 1820
4James VI of Scotland57 years, 246 days24 July 1567 to 27 March 1625
5Henry III of England and Lord of Ireland56 years, 29 days 18 October 1216 to 16 November 1272
6Edward III of England and Lord of Ireland50 years, 147 days 25 January 1327 to 20 June 1377
7William I of Scotland48 years, 360 days 9 December 1165 to 4 December 1214
8Llywelyn of Gwynedd44–46 years 1194 or 1195 to 11 April 1240
9Elizabeth I of England and Ireland44 years, 127 days 17 November 1558 to 24 March 1603
10David II of Scotland41 years, 260 days7 June 1329 to 22 February 1371

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