Queen Elizabeth II’s reign began on 6th February 1852 and on 9th September 2015 she became the longest ever reigning English monarch, a record held up until then by Queen Victoria. The 54 years that Elizabeth has been on the throne has seen many iconic events at home and abroad and here are just ten of them.
1954: Roger Bannister breaks the four minute mile
On May 6th 1954 3,000 spectators saw the runner Roger Bannister become the first ever athlete to run a mile in under four minutes - in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds to be precise. Before the race Bannister had considered pulling out because of the high winds. Fortunately they dropped shortly before its start and history was made.
1966: England win the World Cup
More sporting history was made on 30th July 1966 when England beat Germany 4-2 to win the World Cup for the first, and only, time. Geoff Hurst was England’s man of the match scoring a hat trick including the last minute goal which gave rise to one of the world’s most famous pieces of football commentary, “They think it’s all over. It is now!”
Up until 15th February 1971 Britain’s currency consisted of pounds, shillings and pence with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound. To make it a more logical system, and to bring the currency into line with many other countries, this was the day when “old money” was scrapped and the decimal system we use today was introduced.
1977: The Silver Jubilee
To celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s first 25 years on the throne there were many Silver Jubilee celebrations in June of this year. These included a chain of beacons being lit across the country, started by one at Windsor Castle and a procession down the Mall in London which was lined by a million spectators. Street parties were also organised by communities all round Britain.
1979: The election of Margaret Thatcher
In the General Election in May 1979 Margaret Thatcher was elected as Britain’s first ever woman Prime Minister and remained in power for the next 11 years until she was replaced by John Major.
1985: Live Aid
In response to the famine in Ethiopia Bob Geldof organised the biggest ever global charity even that took place in both the UK and America on 13th July 1985. It featured most of the world’s biggest music stars of the time and had a global audience of 1.9 billion. It’s estimated that the concerts raised total of £150 million for famine relief.
1989: The invention of the World Wide Web
This is the year when the English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee first developed successful communication across the internet. By developing systems designed to be for general use Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the internet that everyone uses today.
1989: The fall of the Berlin Wall
Since 1961 the Berlin Wall had been a symbol of the division between the communist East Germany and free West Germany. But following the gradual collapse of the East German regime in November 1989 its demolition began. At the same time, or soon after, many more communist regimes fell including in Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia.
1991: The Release of Nelson Mandela
On February 11th 1991 the world watched as Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa after 27 years behind bars. It marked the end of the apartheid era in the country and Mandela went on to become the country’s president, a position he held for five years from 1994 till 1999.
2012: The Golden Jubilee and London 2012
The Queen’s 50th anniversary as monarch was marked by many events including concerts held at Buckingham Palace and a 27 plane flypast by the RAF. This was also the year of the London 2012, considered by many to have been the best Olympics of all time.