Queen is the world's longest actively reigning monarch, historian says

Queen is actually the world’s longest actively reigning monarch historian reveals because Louis XIV of France became king when he was four but did not fully ascend to the throne until he was 13

  • Queen technically became world’s longest actively reigning monarch this year 
  • Royal biographer Hugo Vickers points out current recordholder King Louis XIV, technically ruled under a period of regency as he ascended the throne aged four 
  • That means while he was still France’s ruler for 72 years, he did not officially begin ruling the country on his own until celebrating his 13th birthday in 1651 

The Queen could last night lay claim to the prestigious title of being the world’s longest actively serving monarch after a royal expert claimed the current recordholder technically ruled under a regency period.

Her Majesty, 96, leapfrogged Thailand’s former monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej who reigned for 70 years and 126 days between 1946 and 2016, from Sunday.

And earlier this month she surpassed Johan II of Liechtenstein, who reigned for 70 years and 91 days, until his death in February 1929.

Although it’s widely reported she holds little interest in breaking records, her astonishing reign would only be beaten in length by King Louis XIV of France.

Known as Louis the Great, the French ruler became king at the tender age of four following the death of his father Louis XIII, and he ruled from 14 May 1643 to 1 September 1715.

According to the record books, only Louis XIV, or ‘The Sun King’, ruled for longer than the Queen.

But royal biographer Hugo Vickers says Her Majesty may be able to lay claim to being the world’s longest actively serving monarch by virtue of the fact the French monarch did not fully ascend the throne when he was aged four.

Although he was crowned King Louis XIV from May 1643, he technically served under his mother Queen Anne’s regency for eight years, owing to his tender age. 

In a letter sent to the Times, Mr Vickers writes: ‘In Louis XIV’s reign, there was a regency between May 14, 1643, and September 7, 1651, until he reached the age of 13.

‘Hence, while he may have been king the longest, our Queen is unquestionably the longest actively reigning monarch in the world.’

The Queen could last night lay claim to the prestigious title of being the world’s longest actively serving monarch after a royal expert claimed the current recordholder technically ruled under a regency period

Although he was crowned King Louis XIV from May 1643, he technically served under his mother Queen Anne’s regency for eight years, owing to his tender age – meaning his active reign only lasted 64 years

The French King had a particular penchant for mistresses, sharing the company of well over a dozen female muses throughout his 72 year reign. 

In 1667, King Louis XIV was coming to the end of his six-year liaison with Louise de La Vallière, a Catholic girl who’d arrived at court aged 17 as maid of honour to his sister-in-law Henriette.

Within two months she was the king’s lover – encouraged down this path by Henriette as a way of diverting court gossip from her own affair with Louis. 

Queen Elizabeth was born on 21 April 1926 and became first in line for the throne after her uncle Edward VIII abdicated in 1936 and her father, George VI, became King.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thaliand pictured (left) with the Queen during a state visit to the UK in July 1960 

1. Louis XIV of France: 72 years, 110 days 

Known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, the French monarch became King on 14 May 1643 at the age of four following the death of his father Louis XIII , and remained on the throne until 1 September 1715. He left behind the incredible legacy of the Palace of Versailles, although his country was in debt after the 13-year-long War of Spanish succession.

2. Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand: 70 years, 126 days 

During his reign, he was served by a total of 30 prime ministers, from 9 June 1946 to 13 October 2016. Seen as being close to the divine by the Thai people, those who criticised the monarchy were imprisoned or forced into exile. 

3. Queen Elizabeth II: 70 years, 92 days 

Her Majesty becamse Quen aged on 6th February 1952. Elizabeth was not originally destined to become Queen. However, she became heir presumptive after her father, King George VI, ascended to the throne following the abdication of his older brother, King Edward VIII.

3, Prince Johann II of Liechtenstein: 70 years, 91 days

Johann reigned from 12 November 1858, when he took the throne aged 18, to 11 February 1929. He made Liechtenstein a constitutional monarchy in 1921 and was known as a patron of the arts. But he was renowned for being antisocial and avoided public events. He never married and didn’t live in the royal palace. 

5. K’inich Janaab Pakal of Palenque: 68 years, 33 days.

Pakal ruled the Maya city state of Palenque from 29 July 615 to 31 August 683 AD. 

Pakal the Great is thought to have ascended to the throne at the age of 12- years-old and during his rule managed to expand Palenque’s power in the western Maya states.

Nobody had expected Elizabeth to ever ascend the throne, as Edward was young and expected to have plenty of heirs, who would overtake Elizabeth’s place in line.

However, less than a year after the death of Elizabeth’s grandfather, King George V, Edward abdicated the throne in order to marry Wallace Simpson, an American divorcee.

Over the course of the Second World War, Elizabeth had been exchanging letters with Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, and in 1947 the two announced their engagement, marrying later that year.

The couple welcomed their first child – Prince Charles – in 1948, followed by Princess Anne in 1950. A decade later, they would have their second son, Prince Andrew, and in 1964, their third, Prince Edward.

In 1952, the news reached Elizabeth that her father had died, making her Queen with immediate effect. Coronated in June 1953, Queen Elizabeth began the reign that has so far lasted 70 years, bringing her to her Platinum Jubilee.

In September 2015, she officially became the longest-reigning British monarch after surpassing the reign of Queen Victoria.

At the time she admitted it was not a title ‘to which I have ever aspired’.  

Other records she can lay claim to include being the oldest ever reigning Queen and the oldest ever British monarch. 

In March 2020, the Queen surpassed K’inich Janaab Pakal who ruled the Maya city state of Palenque for 68 years and 33 days before his death in 683AD. 

Pakal the Great is thought to have ascended to the throne at the age of 12- years-old and during his rule managed to expand Palenque’s power in the western Maya states.

The Mayan civilisation reached its peak between 250 and 900 AD, when it ruled large swathes of what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.

And there appears to be no let up in Her Majesty’s appetite to serve the British people.

Last week, an emotional Queen said she remains ‘committed to serving’ the nation to ‘the best of my ability’ after she concluded her Platinum Jubilee celebrations by greeting crowds of adoring fans on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

The 96-year-old monarch was absent for much of the extended Bank Holiday weekend, after finding the first day enjoyable but tiring, and in a message of thanks acknowledged this but said her ‘heart’ had been with well-wishers.

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