Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Queen at 90: Britain's other long lived monarchs

As the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday, she claims another records - she is the first British monarch to reach that age.

Elizabeth II became the UK's longest lived monarch almost a decade ago
(photo Defence Images via Flickr)

She became the longest lived ruler in the country's history almost a decade ago but while Elizabeth II is years ahead in the longevity stakes, there are plenty of other kings and queens who have stacked up the birthdays in their time. As Elizabeth, Queen of England turns 90 here are the next ten longest lived monarchs in British history.

Victoria, reigned 1837 - 1901
Queen Victoria was 81 years and 243 days when she died in January 1901. She had been born on May 19th 1819 at Kensington Palace as the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent and his wife, Victoria, and become heiress to the throne in the reign of her uncle, William IV. Her accession on June 20th 1837 began an era that still carries her name. She died on January 22nd 1901 at Osborne House and is buried at Frogmore, Windsor

George III, reigned 1760 - 1820
Poor George, who spent the last decade of his life suffering serious mental health problems, remains Britain's longest lived king having made it to the age of 81 years and 239 days. He was born at Norfolk House, London on June 4th 1738 and his parents were Frederick, Prince of Wales and his wife, Augusta. His father's early death made him heir to his grandfather, George II, in 1751 and his death, on October 25th 1760, made him king. He ruled for almost 60 years until his death on January 29th 1820 but there had been a regency for the last ten years of his life. He is buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

Edward VIII, reigned 1936
His reign may not have lasted that long, but he remains amongst the most long lived British monarchs. Edward VIII was born on June 23rd 1894 at White Lodge, Richmond, the first child of George, Duke of York and his wife, Mary. He was raised to be king from the moment of his birth and took the throne on January 20th 1936 on the death of his father. But his reign lasted less than a year and on December 11th 1936 he abdicated so he could marry Wallis Simpson making his brother king and his niece, the future Elizabeth II, heir to the throne. He was known as the Duke of Windsor for the rest of his life and died on May 28th 1972 in Paris at the age of 77 years.

George II, reigned 1727 - 1760
The last British monarch, so far, not to have been born in the country he would rule, George II lived to the age of 76. He was born on October 30th 1683 in Hanover, the son of the future George I and his wife, Sophia Dorothea. When his father was offered the throne of Britain in 1714, George became its heir and succeeded on 11th June 1727. His 33 year rule came to an end with his death on October 25th 1760 at Kensington Palace. He is buried at Westminster Abbey.

William IV, reigned 1830 - 1837
This unexpected king had a short reign and, until recently, the honour of being the oldest heir to the throne in British history. William was born on August 21st 1765 at Buckingham House, London. He was the third son of George III and his queen, Charlotte, and never expected to reign. But unhappy marriages and untimely deaths meant that William ascended the throne on June 26th 1830, succeeding his brother, George IV. His reign of almost seven years ended with his death, at the age of 71, on June 20th 1837 when he was succeeded by his niece, Victoria. He is buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

George V, reigned 1910 - 1936
The Queen's beloved grandfather died at the age of 70 on January 20th 1936 and within months his favourite grandchild was heir to the throne. George had been born on June 3rd 1865 at Marlborough House, London as the second son of the future Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The death of his older brother, Albert Victor, in 1892 put him in line for the throne and he succeeded on May 6th 1910 on the death of his father. George V is buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor

Edward VII, reigned 1901 - 1910
And he just overtakes his father in the list of long lived monarchs. Edward VII was 68 when he died in 1910 after a long time as Prince of Wales and a short time as a king. He had been born on November 9th 1841 at Buckingham Palace, the second child and first son of Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. He spent decades as heir to the throne before succeeding his mother on January 22nd 1901. His reign lasted just over 9 years and he died on May 6th 1910 at Buckingham Palace. He is buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

James II, reigned 1685 - 1688
Another short reign for a long lived man features in this list. James II was king very briefly before being overthrown and replaced with his own daughter and son in law. He had been born on October 14th 1633 at St James' Palace, London and was the second surviving son of King Charles I and his queen, Henrietta Maria. He was forced into exile when his father was deposed and executed - when the Monarchy was restored in 1660, James became heir to his brother, Charles II. He ascended on February 6th 1685 on Charles' death but soon ran into trouble and on December 11th 1688, he ended up fleeing England when the Glorious Revolution took place. He tried and failed to regain his throne and lived for another 25 years, dying at Chateau de Saint-German-en-Laye in France on September 16th 1701 at the age of 67 years and 327 days.

George IV, reigned 1820 - 1830
Given his rather exuberant lifestyle, George IV lived for a pretty long time - it must be those Hanoverian genes. He was born on August 12th 1762 at Buckingham House, London, the first child of George III and Queen Charlotte. He was heir to the throne for decades during which his excesses and complicated personal life caused much talk but in 1810 he ended up as Prince Regent when his father's health deteriorated. He ascended the throne on the death of George III on January 29th 1820 and ruled for just over a decade. He died on June 26th 1830 at Windsor Castle and is buried at St George's Chapel there.  He was 67 years and 319 days old.

George I, reigned 1714 - 1727
The Hanoverians really made their mark on this list and it ends with the first king of that line to take the throne. George I was born on May 28th 1660 in Hanover, the eldest son of Ernest August, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg and his wife, Sophia, who was a granddaughter of James I of England. Through his mother, he inherited the British throne on the death of Queen Anne on August 1st 1714 and he ruled until his own death, on June 11th 1727 in Osnabruck at the age of 67 years and 15 days. George I is buried at Herrenhausen, Hanover.

So that's the ten monarchs that follow Elizabeth in the longevity line - she is a long way in front of all of them and now moves out even further as she celebrates this special birthday.

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