LONDON – Multiple gun salutes and the ringing of church bells across the nation marked Queen Elizabeth II’s 67 years as the United Kingdom’s head of state on Wednesday while the monarch herself marked the occasion in private at one of her country estates.
A traditional gun salute at London’s Green Park will be performed by a regiment known as the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, with a similar cannonade will be fired at the Tower of London on the banks of the River Thames by the Honourable Artillery Company.
The bells of Westminster Abbey, where the then Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip back in 1947, and where later she would be crowned and anointed Queen, are also set to sound in commemoration of the longest reign in the history of the UK.
Elizabeth II had surpassed Queen Victoria to become the UK’s longest-serving monarch in Sept. 2015.
However, she will not be celebrating in public because the date also marks the day she lost her beloved father, King George VI.
On Feb. 6, 1952, while aged just 56, the king died in his sleep as a consequence of coronary thrombosis and Princess Elizabeth was informed that she had become queen at the age of 25.
George VI, a heavy smoker, had been suffering from lung cancer and Elizabeth was told of his death by her husband while the couple was staying at the Treetops resort in Kenya.
Although Elizabeth became queen that day, she was not crowned until June 2, 1953.
The delay was in line was tradition, which dictates that enough time has to pass following the death of a monarch before a replacement is crowned.
As has been the case during similar occasions in the past, the queen, 92, was spending the day at Sandringham, her private residence in eastern England, where she often spends her Christmas holidays.
As of Wednesday, Elizabeth has been the monarch for 24,472 days, during which time 13 prime ministers have been in office under her rule, from Winston Churchill to Theresa May.
Elizabeth became the world’s longest-reigning living monarch after the death of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Oct. 13, 2016.
According to the UK royal household, her reign “has seen her travel more widely than any other monarch, undertaking many historic overseas visits.”
The website added, “The Queen has ruled for longer than any other Monarch in British history, becoming a much loved and respected figure across the globe.”