London: Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest reigning sovereign, today became the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee, with 65 years on the throne.
Royal gun salutes in London marked Ascension Day today with a 41-gun salute by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery at Green Park near Buckingham Palace.
A 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company was fired at the Tower of London soon after. Gun salutes also took place across the UK in cities of Cardiff, Edinburgh and York.
The bells at Westminster Abbey in central London were also rung in honour of the occasion.
The queen rose to the throne in 1952 at the age of 25 upon the death of her father King George VI.
Prime Minister Theresa May offered her congratulations, hailing the Queen as “remarkable” and “truly an inspiration to all of us”.
“I know the nation will join with me today in celebrating and giving thanks for the lifetime of service Her Majesty the Queen has given to our country and to the Commonwealth,” she said in a statement.
“It is a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation that she is not marking becoming the first monarch to reign for 65 years with any special celebration, but instead getting on with the job to which she has dedicated her life,” she said.
The 90-year-old monarch is marking the landmark as a day of private contemplation at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk as it also coincides with the day her father, George VI, died. To mark the occasion Buckingham Palace have re-released a photograph of the Queen wearing distinctive sapphire jewellery.
The picture was taken by celebrated photographer David Bailey in 2014 for the GREAT campaign, a publicity campaign to promote Britain around the world.
In the photograph The Queen is wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding present in 1947.
At the time of the commission, Bailey said he had “always been a huge fan of the Queen”.
“She has very kind eyes with a mischievous glint. I’ve always liked strong women, and she is a very strong woman.” It was on the 6 February, 1952 that her father died while at Sandringham.
Princess Elizabeth, who was 25, was in Kenya on a royal tour with her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the time.
The UK’s Royal Mint is to mark the 65th anniversary with a range of specially designed Sapphire Jubilee commemorative coins, as the Royal Mail issues a Sapphire Blue 5 pound stamp.
The Queen had already become the longest reigning British monarch in 2015, when she crossed her great grandmother Queen Victoria’s milestone.
Large-scale jubilee celebrations are now expected to be reserved for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022, when the monarch will mark 70 years.