Elizabeth II marks 60 years on throne

Elizabeth II marks 60 years on throne

LONDON - Reuters
Elizabeth II marks 60 years on throne

AFP Photo

Queen Elizabeth celebrated 60 years on the throne yesterday to become the second British monarch to reach that milestone. During her reign, the royal family has faced tumultuous times and moments of plummeting popularity, above all after the death in 1997 of Princess Diana, the hugely popular ex-wife of her son and heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles.

Elizabeth II, 85, became queen aged 25 on Feb. 6, 1952 on the death of her father George VI, while on tour in Kenya with her husband Prince Philip. The queen said in a statement that she was grateful for “the wonderful support and encouragement” she had received over the years, and promised to “dedicate myself anew to your service”.

“I hope also that this Jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future,” she said.

The queen been on the throne for longer than any other monarch except Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901.

During her reign there have been 12 British prime ministers, 12 U.S. presidents and six popes. She has visited 116 countries.

Celebrations yesterday were low key. The queen spent the day carrying out formal duties in Norfolk, eastern England, visiting a town hall and a junior school.

Major celebrations take place over four days in June, including a concert at Buckingham Palace and a pageant involving a flotilla of 1,000 ships on the River Thames.

“You sometimes hear people talk as if the monarchy was simply a glittering ornament, a decoration on our national life,” Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement.

“That misunderstands our constitution and it underestimates our queen. All my life, and for the lives of most people in this country, she has always been there for us.”

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