Skip to main content

Elizabeth II follows some illustrious predecessors in reigning for over 40 years including Victoria, George III and Elizabeth I. But why should this matter?

Dr Sarah Richardson, senior lecturer in History at the University of Warwick comments on Elizabeth II's 63 year long reign as Britain's longest serving monarch,

"Elizabeth II follows some illustrious predecessors in reigning for over 40 years including Victoria, George III and Elizabeth I. But why should this matter? History has demonstrated that many of these long reigning monarchs provided stability to the nation and allowed arts, culture, technology and industry to flourish. Anxiety over succession (especially in earlier periods with high mortality rates) distracted the country and often led to civil war or factional infighting. In contrast a relatively stable and long-lived monarchy enabled energies to be channelled more productively.

Thus to pick a few examples: Elizabeth I’s reign saw the development a robust and efficient way to deal with the poor and she inspired playwrights, writers and poets such as Shakespeare and Spenser. Victoria presided over a large and spreading British empire, with Britain leading the world in industrial output and technological innovation. George III saw the forging of a British nation with the monarchy firmly re-established at the apex. Elizabeth II’s reign has also witnessed great leaps in technology and a re-casting of Britain’s role in the wider world.

In addition, long-reigning monarchs inspire love, loyalty and patriotism among the people with each of the examples above increasing the popularity of the monarchy during their reigns. Contrast this with the highly unpopular sons of George III: George IV and William IV, who reigned between George III and Victoria. The period of the regency (1811) to the accession of Victoria saw some of the most vicious and borderline pornographic imagery of any reigning monarch widely published and disseminated. This demonstrates that the popularity of the monarchy resides very much in the person rather than the institution and support can easily leech away.

Thus long-reigning monarchs have proved highly important for the development of the British state and nation in its history."

Alex Buxton
Communications Manager
Tel: 02476 150423
Mob: 07876 218166
a.buxton.1@warwick.ac.uk