Accession is when a new sovereign takes the throne following the death of the preceding monarch. This happens immediately after the previous King or Queen has died, as opposed to a Coronation ceremony which requires months of planning before it can take place. Despite not being officially crowned, it is at the point of accession that the new monarch becomes King or Queen of their country.  In Great Britain the accession of the new monarch is proclaimed as soon as possible at an Accession Council which is held at St James’s Palace; this council includes all the members of the Privy Council. 

Queen's Coronation

At the beginning of this week, on 6th February, it was the 65th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II, thus marking the Sapphire jubilee of her taking the throne. It is well known that the Queen learned of her father’s death, and her new title as Queen, whilst visiting Kenya on a Commonwealth tour with Prince Philip. They had undertaken this tour as her father, George VI, had been diagnosed with lung cancer in the previous year and was too ill to travel. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had left for the tour on 31st January 1952, saying goodbye to her father for what would be the last time. George VI had then gone back to his estate at Sandringham with his wife and youngest daughter before finally being overcome by his illness and passing away during the night of the 5th February.

 

Whilst this occasion is an incredible milestone for Her Majesty the Queen it must also be seen as a very difficult anniversary when she cannot help but remember the sad death of her father.  The chose to spend the day at the Sandringham estate in quiet reflection, thinking of her father and the great sadness of his life being cut short at only 56. The occasion was marked across London with gun salutes throughout the day. 

 

Elizabeth II The Steadfast

Her Majesty the Queen is the first British monarch to reach this milestone; she had already become the longest reigning monarch, exceeding the record set by Queen Victoria, when her reign reached 63 years, 7 months and 2 days in September 2015. However, she is not the first monarch in history across the world to reach this point; King Sobhuza II of Swaziland reigned for 82 years, the longest verifiable reign by any monarch in history.

 

We all hope to see the queen celebrate more jubilees in her lifetime, along with reaching other milestones such as her 70th wedding anniversary later this year. To read more about her amazing life and achievements, shop for books in our monarchy collection by clicking here.