Celebrate the longest reign? One would NOT be amused! Queen rules out any personal celebration when she becomes Britain's longest reigning monarch on Wednesday 

  • She will have been on the throne for 63 years, seven months and two days 
  • The Queen is determined there be 'no fuss' out of respect for ancestors 
  • She will travel to Scotland to open the new Scottish Borders Railway 

It is a huge achievement and important milestone in the history of the British Monarchy. But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Queen has ruled out any personal celebration when she becomes the longest-reigning British Monarch on Wednesday, September 9.

At about 5.30 pm she will have been on the throne for 63 years, seven months and two days, equalling the record held by her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.

Sources close to the Queen say she is determined there be ‘no fuss’ and that it should be ‘business as usual’ out of respect to Victoria and with no suggestion that what is being celebrated is her death.

No fuss: The Queen believes celebrations would be disrespectful to her Victoria 

No fuss: The Queen believes celebrations would be disrespectful to her Victoria 

‘The Queen has no intention of celebrating on the actual day,’ said one source. ‘She would see that as very disrespectful to one of her ancestors.’

True to form, the 89-year-old Queen Elizabeth will see it as a working day – opening a new railway line in Scotland.

She will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh as she takes a break from her summer holiday at Balmoral to travel to Edinburgh to officially open the Scottish Borders Railway in Edinburgh, where she will board a steam locomotive.

Royal aides insist that the big celebrations will come next June, when the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday. A senior aide said: ‘We are not aware of any private plans [to celebrate on September 9], the Queen made it clear she wanted no fuss.’

She will, however, be surrounded by her family. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are also in Scotland carrying out engagements, while Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie will also be visiting their grandmother next month along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are taking Prince George and Princess Charlotte to see their great grandparents.

Those closest to the Queen say it is likely she will allow herself a moment of quiet reflection to contemplate her amazing achievement. ‘She’s more likely to go for a walk or a horse ride than throw a party,’ a source said. ‘She has made it perfectly clear to her family that she doesn’t want anything like that. She thinks it would be entirely inappropriate and my feeling is she would be furious if someone does try to plan anything.

‘Any mention about celebrating the day just doesn’t go down well. A glass might be raised at dinner but that will be it.

Respect: The Queen will not celebrate the longest reign out of respect to her grandmother, Queen Victoria, pictured 

Respect: The Queen will not celebrate the longest reign out of respect to her grandmother, Queen Victoria, pictured 

‘She knows that people will want to see her on this historic day and that is why she will be in Scotland working and on duty. Her 90th birthday is going to be her big celebration and she’s very much looking forward to that.’

Parliament will mark September 9, however. Commons Speaker John Bercow has been arguing privately for some form of commemoration despite objections from the Queen’s official representative in Parliament, Black Rod, Lieutenant General David Leakey.

Black Rod argued that the Palace had indicated to him that its efforts would instead be concentrated on marking the Monarch’s 90th birthday. But Mr Bercow was not to be deterred and when he was told that the Queen would be at Balmoral he even suggested a live video-link should be set up, which she would use to address a crowd in Westminster. Black Rod dismissed the idea as ‘undignified’. No 10 is drawing up plans for David Cameron to pay tribute to the Queen at the start of Prime Minister’s Questions, followed by a series of ‘loyal addresses’ – speeches in tribute – from MPs later in the day.

A No 10 source said: ‘The PM believes it would be appropriate for MPs to get an opportunity to pay tribute to the Queen on such a significant occasion and discussions on how best to proceed will take place over the coming days.’

Charity, good sense and quiet discretion: How our Queen leads by shining example

By Lord Hurd

Published to celebrate the Queen becoming the longest-serving British monarch, Elizabeth II: The Steadfast is the compelling new biography by Lord Hurd. As one of the leading politicians of his era, the former Foreign Secretary was perfectly placed to observe the Queen, and the insights in his book hold particular significance.

Although Lord Hurd is careful to warn that he ‘would not claim any privileged access to her thoughts or inner feelings’, his book, which is published later this month, has the endorsement of a preface written by Prince William.

Here, our extract from Lord Hurd’s book gives a remarkable new understanding of the Queen, with revelations about the burden of the Queen’s Speech, her determination to maintain a traditional Royal Family – and how Diana, had she survived, would have become Her Majesty’s ally.

Warm praise: As well as paying tribute to the Queen in her role as a public figure, he honours the role she plays within his own family, as a grandmother and great-grandmother

Warm tributes: The book has the endorsement of a preface written by Prince William

...on tradition

Times change and we change with them, so does the Queen. The House of Windsor can no longer pride itself on setting a moral example to the nation; the example which it can now hope to set is not of absolute moral strictness but of charity and good sense. Day by day, year by year, the Queen has set a solid example of both these qualities.

On the one hand they wish her to keep and use the trappings of monarchy. They would not relish the pedestrian and undramatic style of her Scandinavian and Dutch counterparts. Elizabeth’s subjects expect to see the Crown and the glitter of Royal diamonds on suitable occasions. They rejoice with the Queen on her Royal birthday and the anniversaries of her succession.

They expect men and women of undoubted gallantry and long public service to be honoured by the Queen or by members of her family. But at the same time they expect the Queen to keep the monarchy up to date.

...on Diana’s death

Lord Spencer in his farewell words to his sister achieved headlines with phrases which were applauded in the Abbey and outside. No one, on reflection, believed that the Earl or his family offered an alternative model for the upbringing of the Princes.

As the years passed, the Queen and Diana would have found a way of working together. Had they had the time, Diana might have become an ally of the Queen, alert to every shift of fashion, always glamorous and always unpredictable and exciting.

...on Queen’s Speech

One regular event badly needs amendment. The speech from the Throne delivered by the Queen at the opening of each parliamentary session is painful to hear and must be even more difficult to deliver. Just about everyone knows she has had no involvement in its composition. It is the fruit of deliberate consultation among her Ministers.

Cover: The book features a striking painting of the Queen in the 70's by Elizabeth Peyton

Cover: The book features a striking painting of the Queen in the 70's by Elizabeth Peyton

The resulting document has none of the natural form and harmony of the English language. A possible remedy is to hand: I believe that the Queen’s Speech to Parliament should be the work of one Minister only, in partnership with the Queen.

Every Cabinet still produces at least one Minister who knows how to use the English language to good effect.

...on keeping her counsel

Unlike Prince Philip and the Prince of Wales, she sees little merit in the spontaneity which brightens up their speeches but from time to time has landed both of them in trouble.

[In the run-up to the Scottish referendum] of course the public were interested in the Queen’s view. Of course she could not express a view while keeping her reputation for neutrality.

It was nevertheless her judgement that something should be said. She solved the dilemma by quietly urging her Scottish subjects to think carefully before they voted and to come together in friendship after the vote. 

No one of goodwill could accuse her of making a partisan statement; yet no one of sense could be in doubt about her views.

...on becoming heir – and then Queen

(Shortly after the Abdication of Edward VIII, her father unexpectedly becomes King in 1936.)

The same day the Princesses practised their curtsey to their father, when as King he came home to lunch… Princess Margaret asked her sister if it meant that one day she would be Queen. ‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘I suppose it does.’

(The Queen ascends to the throne in 1952 on the death of her father George VI.)

The news was flashed to Kenya and reached Elizabeth and Philip at Sagana Lodge near Treetops, the famous point from which wildlife could be watched. 

The Queen did not break down or show any strong emotion. She apologised to those around her for spoiling the rest of their visit.

Elizabeth II: The Steadfast by Douglas Hurd is published on August 27 by Penguin.

 

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