The Longest-Serving Kings and Queens
of England and Great Britain

King Henry VIII managed 37 years and Queen Elizabeth I only lasted 44 years. I'm talking, of course, about kings and queens of England and the length of time they spent on the throne. It's a topic which will be on everybody's lips soon as the nation celebrates the 60the anniversary of the reign of Elizabeth Windsor - QE II seems to be on course to become the longest-reigning monarch in our history (only another three-and-a-bit years to go!)

Take a look at this list of the five longest-serving English monarchs to find out which kings and queens of England have ruled longer than Elizabeth II.


King Edward III 1327-1377 (50 years and 147 days)

King Edward III of England

While Edward II's reign was blighted by military failures against Scotland, his son's lengthy rule will always be associated with military success in France. Edward came to the throne at the age of 14, was married at 15 and was a father at 18.

After a successful campaign against the Scots he started the Hundred Years War when he declared himself the rightful King of France in 1337.

Edward's early reign proved that he was as adept at warfare as he was at brokering treaties. Later setbacks on the battlefield could not undo the reputation he had built up - admired in his lifetime, he is one of only five kings and queens of England to have ruled for over 50 years.



King Henry III 1216-1272 (56 years and 29 days)

King Henry III of England

Child king Henry was the son of King John - he became ruler when he was just nine. Henry could be said to be a king without a crown as this symbol of monarchy was lost during a ship wreck off the coast of East Anglia during his father's reign.

It is thought that if Robin Hood did exist it was most likely that he existed during Henry's time rather than (as popular legend depicts) during John's time.



King George III 1760-1820 (59 years and 96 days)

King George III of England

When one pictures George III it is hard not to think of the sad, mad tragic figure depicted in the film The Madness of King George; running around royal gardens in his night-robe.

While madness overshadowed the final decade of George's reign, he did achieve much. For instance, he was the first king of the United Kingdom - a title created in 1801. England, and George's reputation, prospered when he appointed William Pitt the Younger as his prime minister and the nation emerged as a leading power in Europe.

However, by then an ill-advised war against America had already been fought and lost. George's personal life was far happier than his attempts to hang on to far-flung corners of his empire and he had a long and happy marriage to Charlotte of Mecklenburg (whom he first met on his wedding day). Together, the couple produced 15 children.



Queen Elizabeth II (60 years and counting)

Queen Elizabeth II of England

Amongst the kings and queens of England, Queen Elizabeth II is probably the one most people are most aware of thanks to TV and news coverage and her many tours around the globe.

Elizabeth became Queen in 1952 and during her reign the former British Empire transformed into the Commonwealth, a concept that's very close to her heart.

Todate she has worked with 12 prime ministers - it is amazing to think that Sir Winston Churchill was the first.



Queen Victoria 1837-1901 (63 years and 216 days)

Queen Victoria of England

Victoria joined the long line of kings and queens of England aged only 18 and presided over a golden age of English industrial expansion and economic progress.

The turning point of her reign came when her beloved Prince Albert died at the age of just 42; Victoria wore black for the rest of her reign. Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli persuaded the Queen to end a long period of mourning to resume her public duties - something she did with such courage that it restored the public's deep affection for her.

Victoria recognised the limits of her powers but made full use of her influence to try to encourage her government to pursue peaceful policies at a time of great international change.

How fascinating it would have been to be a fly on the wall at her Tuesday meetings with her Prime Ministers!



James Christie writes for arts and craft company Baker Ross. Check out Baker Ross' range of Diamond Jubilee Personalised Gifts