Last year, she entered the record books as the longest serving monarch in 1,000 years of British kings and queens, eclipsing the 63 years and 216 days set by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
And now Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating another important milestone – her 90th birthday.
When she came to the throne in 1952, rationing from the Second World War had only recently been lifted; the British Empire still ruled large swathes of the globe; homosexuality was a crime; divorce, a stigma; premarital sex, the exception; ethnic minorities, a rarity; sport, mostly amateur; British food, mostly inedible.
Princess Elizabeth at age 11 on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after her father’s coronation [Image: Keystone, Getty Images]
Today’s Britain – where some London schools have kids speaking more than a hundred languages, where gay marriage is legal and footballers are paid more per week than the prime minister earns in a year – is like another country.
With husband Prince Phillip and children Charles and Anne [Image: Keystone, Getty Images]
As 12 prime ministers and presidents came and went; as haircuts and hemlines got longer or shorter; and our faith in modernity gave way to anxiety about climate change, the queen has remained as steady as the chimes of Big Ben.
Princess Elizabeth leaving Buckingham Palace for her coronation [Image: Monty Fresco, Topical Press Agency, Getty Images]
Today, blessed by rosy-cheeked grand-children and the longest period of peace in Britain’s long history, she is admired not just in Britain but around the world.
The Queen with Prince Charles, Prince George and Prince William [Image: Royal Mail]