Queen Elizabeth II became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch last week as she broke the record set by her great-grandmother, the iconic Queen Victoria. Drumroll please: on Wednesday 9th September 2015 the Queen had reigned for an epic 63 years and seven months: that’s 23,226 days! Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: ‘Over the last 63 years, Her Majesty has been a rock of stability in a world of constant change.’
The BT Tower – one of the tallest buildings in London’s skyline – scrolled the message long may she reign’ all day long last Wednesday, and business in the houses of parliament halted for half an hour so politicians could show their respect to the Queen. Fleets of boats took to the River Thames in a procession from Tower Bridge to the Houses of Parliament, and battleship HMS Belfast fired a four-gun salute.
But what did the Queen do to mark this special occasion? It was business as usual for HRH who was on official duties in Scotland, but she’s chosen this opportunity to give the Duchess of Cambridge the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a female royal. The Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II is a diamond- encrusted brooch featuring an ivory mini-portrait of the Queen, worn on a yellow ribbon, and it’s a gift reserved for only first-division royals. Hurrah for Kate!
Living members of the royal family already graced with the Queen’s order are (above, left to right): the Duchess of Cornwall, the Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal, the Duchess of Gloucester, the Duchess of Kent, and Princess Alexandra of Kent. Diana, Princess of Wales received the order when she was married to Prince Charles. Kate is expected to wear her new brooch to a State dinner when the Chinese president Xi Jinping visits the UK in October. Watch this space, Sloanies!
It’s celebrations all round at Buckingham Palace right now. With the Queen’s 90th birthday due next summer, she’s encouraging the nation to hold street parties in celebration of her reaching this grand age, and she’s inviting 10,000 lucky guests to take part in her very own street party outside Buckingham Palace on June 12th. Picnic tables and hampers of sandwiches and strawberries will be the order of the day, and proceeds from the event will go towards projects being run by the Queen’s 600 patron charities. Street parties are a very British establishment: similar events were held for the Queen’s coronation in 1953, and for her Golden Jubilee in 2003. An artists’ impression of her 90th birthday street party – being organised by the Queen’s eldest grandson Peter Phillips – is below.
Former butler to Prince Charles, Grant Harrold, has a few tips for how to throw your own British style street party: