Queen Elizabeth II reached a major milestone Wednesday, becoming the longest-reigning monarch in Britain’s history by passing Queen Victoria, who served for 63 years and seven months.
The 89-year-old queen will overtake her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s reign of 23,226 days, 16 hours, and 23 minutes at 17:30 GMT on Wednesday, to become Britain’s longest reigning monarch.
Prime Minister David Cameron said millions of Britons would celebrate the historic moment.
“Over the last 63 years, Her Majesty has been a rock of stability in a world of constant change and her selfless sense of service and duty has earned admiration not only in Britain, but right across the globe,” Cameron said.
The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, conducted one public event, inaugurating a new train route along the Scottish border.
“I thank you all, and all of the many others at home and overseas, for your touching messages of great kindness,” Elizabeth said after bring introduced by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The 89-year-old queen, wearing a two-tone blue coat and matching hat, noted that she had not aspired to pass Victoria and simply saw it as a logical result of having lived a long life. The public event was low key, and marked by many smiles as Elizabeth acknowledged the crowd of several hundred.
Earlier, she waved to crowds at Waverley Station in Edinburgh as she boarded a train bound for the opening ceremony. The arrival of her helicopter had been delayed by fog and poor visibility in Scotland.
British legislators marked the milestone in Parliament and newspapers were filled with special souvenir tributes to the queen. Praise also poured in from distant parts of the Commonwealth.
Historic vessels, including the Havengore, which carried Sir Winston Churchill’s body at his funeral, leisure cruisers, and passenger boats, takes part in a procession on the River Thames between Tower Bridge and House of Parliament, sounding their horns to mark the longest reign of Elizabeth II at midday.
The Tower Bridge will lift as a sign of respect and as the procession passes by HMS Belfast, a four-gun salute will sound and Massey Shaw will shoot jets of water into the air.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the Australian Parliament that the queen has compiled an extraordinary record of service and is regarded with “respect and affection” by Australians.
“Hers has been a long, rich life of service to her country, to the Commonwealth,” Abbott said. “We pay tribute to her dedication to duty. We wish her and her loving, remarkable husband health and happiness in the years ahead.”
Story compiled from Associated Press and Xinhua News reports.