Ten days ago, Queen Elizabeth II reached a milestone: she became the first British monarch to serve 65 years on the throne.
This is an astonishing achievement. She is also the oldest serving monarch in the world, and the longest surviving female monarch of all time. However, in a very British way, she specifically did not want a fuss on her Sapphire Jubilee.
Regardless of her choice not to publicly celebrate, this significant anniversary was marked with a new British stamp, a reissued portrait of the queen, and the U.K. Royal Mint created a collection of eight commemorative coins. The queen has kept the Royal Mint busy in recent years as they also launched special coins to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, recognition of her as the U.K.’s longest reigning monarch in 2015, and her 90th birthday last year.
This year’s coins are worth five pounds sterling (about $6.25). They have an inscription, "shine through the ages" from her 1952 coronation speech, and each is engraved with a quote from the speech she gave on her 21st birthday while on a tour of South Africa, a member of the U.K. Commonwealth, in 1947, when she was still a princess: "my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service."
I think everyone would agree that she has fulfilled this promise and it is remarkable how she has continued to work. She is reported to have traveled more than a million miles, made over 300 official overseas visits and traveled to around 120 countries during the course of her reign.
She has met every U.S. president since Hoover except one, Lyndon Johnson. That is more than 25 percent of all U.S. presidents. Queen Elizabeth has quite understandably been handing over responsibility to the younger royals in recent years, especially Prince William, Prince Harry and Princess Catherine.
Traditional royal gun salutes were fired across London and the Band of the Royal Artillery played a selection of celebratory music at a freezing Green Park in London to mark the Sapphire Jubilee last week. However, the queen was not in Britain’s capital city to hear them. She chose to stay in her country house at Sandringham, Norfolk (in the east of England) where her father, King George VI, died from lung cancer on Feb. 6. 1952, making Accession Day bittersweet for the queen.
Each year, she usually goes to her country estate in Norfolk at Christmas and returns to London’s Buckingham Palace in February, after the anniversary of her father’s death. There has been concern about the queen’s health in recent months as she was reported to have a "heavy cold" over the holidays, did not make any public appearances for a month and, unusually, did not attend church. Thankfully, she seems to have been restored to health and returned to London after what she cannot help regard as the anniversary of her father’s premature death.
It appears as though the queen is looking forward to a more joyful anniversary later this year and one she shares with husband Prince Philip: their platinum wedding anniversary.
With this in mind, I will leave you with a quote from Queen Elizabeth II herself, "My husband has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years, and I owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim."
God bless America, and her majesty!