Queen Elizabeth II becomes longest reigning monarch in Britain after 63 years on the throne

Her majesty surpasses the record held by Queen Victoria

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The Independent Online

Queen Elizabeth II has made history by becoming the longest reigning monarch in Britain.

Her Majesty surpasses the 63 years, seven months, two days, 16 hours and 23 minutes that her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria spent on the throne.

Her Majesty, 89, somewhat reluctantly recognised this milestone on Wednesday by thanking the public for their best wishes as she opened a railway line in Scotland. She otherwise refused to celebrate the occasion, believing it to signify nothing more than the death of her father, George VI, who died on 6 February 1952.

"Many ... have also kindly noted another significance attaching to today, although it is not one to which I have ever aspire," she said.

"Inevitably a long life can pass by many milestones - my own is no exception - but I thank you all and the many others at home and overseas for your touching messages and great kindness."

Her own refusal to mark the occasion contrasted heavily to the tributes paid by politicians and leaders, the festivities held in her honour and the attention paid to her 63 years on the throne. 

Her Majesty’s reign proved a divisive topic, with republicans criticising the cost of the Royal Family and the estimated £340 million worth she has amassed during her life.  

But in London, the royal barge Gloriana led a flotilla of boats down the River Thames and past a four-gun salute from the battleship HMS Belfast, while bells were rung in Westminster Abbey.

Additional reporting by PA