December 11th 1936: Edward VIII abdicates
On this day in 1936, Edward VIII’s abdication of the throne of Great Britain became effective. The King abdicated due to his intention to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice divorced American socialite. The Church of England did not allow divorced people to remarry and thus Edward could not marry Simpson and keep the throne. He abdicated the throne after only 326 days, making him the only British monarch to have voluntarily renounced the throne since the Anglo-Saxon period. Edward VIII was never officially crowned King. Edward was succeeded by his younger brother Albert, who became King George VI. George VI’s daughter Elizabeth currently rules as Queen Elizabeth II.
February 6th 1952: Elizabeth II becomes Queen
On this day 60 years ago in 1952, King George VI died and his daughter Elizabeth II became Queen. At the moment he died, the new Queen was in a treehouse at the Treetops Hotel in Kenya. When asked what name she would adopt as Queen she replied: “My own, of course”. She was coronated on 2nd June 1953, and it was the first coronation to be televised. She is one of the most popular British monarchs in history and so far, the second longest serving monarch (behind Queen Victoria). This year is her Diamond Jubilee, celebrating 60 years on the throne.
June 20th 1837: Queen Victoria succeeds to the throne
On this day in 1837, Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom aged only 18, following the death of King William IV. Her coronation took place on 28th June 1838 and Victoria was the first British monarch to live in Buckingham Palace. She married her first cousin Prince Albert in 1840 and had 9 children. The couple were deeply in love and upon his premature death in 1861 she was plunged into deep mourning. As Queen, Victoria tried to influence government policy, but initially relied heavily on the Whig Prime Minister Lord Melbourne. She was a beloved Queen and a national icon who oversaw the great period of change dubbed the ‘Victorian era’ after her reign. Queen Victoria served until her death on 22nd January 1901, thus making her reign of 63 years and 7 months the longest of any British monarch.
"Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen"
- Victoria’s diary for 20th June 1837