The hardest things to come by in the world is power. However, the most complicated task after getting the strength and leadership is the ability to keep hold of it for a considerable time, long, longer, and if possible, the longest time. Getting Monarch leadership and power is a rare thing because of the hereditary system. But the lucky one gets it through marriage. Reigning for over a half a century is the most significant achievement one can boast of, for instance, in the case of the British monarch dynasty. The adventure into the longest reigning monarchs in Britain encompassing the kings that ruled over England, Wales, North Ireland, and Scotland along with a combination of centuries. This list is focused on the top ten of the longest-reigning British monarchs in history.
Table of Contents
- Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom 1952—Present, 67 Years to Date
- Victoria of the United Kingdom 1837—1901, 63 Years
- George III of the United Kingdom 1760—1820, 59 Years
- James VI of Scotland (& I of England) 1567—1625, 57 Years
- Henry III of England 1216—1272, 56 Years
- Edward III of England 1327—1377, 50 Years
- William I of Scotland 1165—1214, 48 Years
- Llywelyn II of Gwynedd 1194 or 1195—1240, 44—46 Years
- Elizabeth I of England & Ireland 1558—1603, 44 Years
- David II, King of Scots, Resigned June 7, 1329—February 22, 1371; 41 Years, 260 Days
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom 1952—Present, 67 Years to Date
Queen Elizabeth II was born unlikely to inherit the throne. Though she was always a princess, as the granddaughter of the King George V child of his second son Albert, she was far from being in line to take the throne of the United Kingdom. Based on this, it required an extraordinary event or phenomenon to propel her in the range of succession. January 1936, her grandfather King George V died at Sandringham. The throne passed to the first successor in line her uncle David became King Edward VIII, and her father Albert became heir presumptive to the throne. The extraordinary event happened on December 1936, when King Edward VIII abdicated the throne, relinquishing the sovereign power to his brother Albert, Elizabeth’s father who became King George VI and the ten years was the heiress presumptive to the United Kingdom throne. The quiet life of the York family changed forever. Even at this point, she did not get any title traditionally privileges as an heir because there were possibilities a younger brother being born and become the apparent heir. Her father died in 1952 after 16 years reign. The throne passed to Elizabeth, and she became the queen on June 1953 to date.
The long journey has encountered incredible adventures and advances. For instance, the conquest of Mount Everest, the birth of the internet, the first landing on the moon, officially opened the Olympic games in London in 2012, and she is currently the oldest head of state. Her current record stands at 67 years, she is the longest-serving British monarch ever, and she still has the potential to raise her reign even further.
Victoria of the United Kingdom 1837—1901, 63 Years
The tragedy that befalls the British royal family in 1817 paved the way for magnificent queen Victoria to come to reign. The princess of Charlotte of Wales, the only child of George, the Prince of Wales, future King George IV, died in the delivery of a stillborn son. After 20 years, Queen Victoria assumed power in 1837 when her father, King William IV died. She was 18 years when she ascended to the British Throne and ordered the bed; she had always shared with her mother removed to shun her mother’s influence. Her coronation was on 28th of June 1838 at Westminster Abbey.
During her reign, Victoria oversaw a period of innovation encompassing the invention and building of the railway, and when we welfare state was first dreamed of. As the British monarch, Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901 for 63 years and 216 days. Her contribution includes building an empire, and visited Great Exhibitions as well as witnessing recognized works published for the very first time. She was the second longest serving British monarch after the current British Monarch surpassed her record, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria have a reputation of not being amused.
George III of the United Kingdom 1760—1820, 59 Years
George III is the longest reigning British King because he reigned for 59 years, and 96 days. The period that is only bettered by two queens, who are his descendants. The granddaughter, Queen Victoria who reigned as the British queen for 63 years and 216 days, and his great, great, great, great, granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II who is still on the throne. He came to the first heir in line of succession when his father died. And in 1760, his grandfather died, and he took over the reign, his coronation was on 22nd September 1761 at the Westminster Abbey.
He was widely known as the mad king as immortalized in the movie, “The Madness of King George III.” The psychosis condition called porphyria which could have resulted from the inbreeding among the royal families across Europe or possibly caused by the death of his youngest and favorite daughter, prince Amelia. In 1810, King George was declared unfit for office, and his son (George IV) took over as Prince Regent; therefore, King George III reigned for 59 years and 96 days though he was only active for a portion of the period. During his reign, King George III recorded a mixed military track record; for instance, his armies defeated Napoleon but lost to the American colonists who wanted independence. He was famously remembered for his insanity during the end of his reign.
James VI of Scotland (& I of England) 1567—1625, 57 Years
King James VI of Scotland and I of England reigned over the United Kingdom. He ascended to power like the kind when he was only one year and a month old. He had different lengths of the reign over the two countries Scotland and England. As the King of Scotland, he ruled for a steady 57 years and 246 days starting from 1567 to 1625, along the way he picked up the English throne as there was no one else to take over. King Henry VIII tried to ensure a male line; however, three of his children died without a child. When Queen Elizabeth I died, the British throne passed to James as Henry’s great, great, nephew where he reigned as King James I from 1603. When we combined the two royalty reigns, he makes it to this list with a whopping 57 years and 246 days as a king. He moved to England, and he ruled both countries until his death in 1625, though, he did not unite the two kingdoms. The scots retained their parliament, church council, legal, and education system. King James is notably known as the monarch that Guy Fawkes attempted to assassinate during the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, an even that remains to be marked across the UK with bonfire and fireworks.
Henry III of England 1216—1272, 56 Years
He came to power as king of England at the age of 9 years in 1216 and reigned until 1272 for 56 years and 29 days. As the king of England alone, only three monarchs surpass him, King George III, Queen Elizabeth II, and Queen Victoria. When it’s about the UK, he is the fourth line of the longevity of reign with the addition of James who reigned in Scotland and partly as king of England. He was less popular as compared to his son Edward I or Edward III, but he succeeded his father King John whose unpopularity was legendary such that people saw Henry III as a better king between the two. He ascended to power during the Barons civil wars marking the complications and difficultness in his reign, commanding over both the first and second Barons’ Wars. He relinquished the throne when death took him at the age of 65 after enduring 56 years and 29 days of difficulty reign.
Edward III of England 1327—1377, 50 Years
King Edward III is one of the most celebrated monarchs of the middle age because of the transformations he made to the kingdom during his reign. He took over from a disastrous reign of his father Edward II; he had to make significant changes in the military by transforming it into one of the most organized military powers of Europe, and other modifications king Edward III to made in his government encompass increasing the legislative branch’s power. His 50 years and 147 days reign were marked as the time of stability and prosperity although Black death and start of hundreds of o9f years of war were part of his reign. Since he outlived his song, the Black Prince, when he died, the throne was passed to his grandson Richard II.
William I of Scotland 1165—1214, 48 Years
King William, I was a Scottish king who was famously known as ‘William the Lion.’ He ascended to power in 1165 and reigned for 48 years and 360 days on the throne until his death in 1214. He should not be confused with King William I of England who was known as the “Conqueror” and reigned hundred years earlier. King William was posthumously given the name “lion” because a red lion was his standard that was adopted and incorporated into the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom.
William, I was also Earl of the Northumberland; however, he handed the title to Henry II of England. He spends a good share of his reign fighting against England to the get the Earl of Northumberland title back from Henry II. He joined the Revolt against Henry II, and he conflicted with John, Henry’s son as well. William, I was among the Britain monarchs that expended a good share of their reign wedging war against England.
Llywelyn II of Gwynedd 1194 or 1195—1240, 44—46 Years
The Welsh king who reigned the longest starting from 1195 to 1240 for 45 years. Since Britain or the United Kingdom encompasses England, Scotland, Wales, and North Ireland, thus making him qualify for this list of British monarch longevity. He was the prince of Gwynedd, and he had to fight for control before extending the territory further. By 1200, Llywelyn the Great was established as the leader of Gwynedd, and in 2018 he was annexed, Powys. He fought to get control, and by the time of his death in 1240, almost all of Wales was under his reign, and he was widely recognized as the Welsh king leader. Unfortunate for Llywelyn II, his leadership of wales was never formalized sparking concerns among historians of how great he was.
Elizabeth I of England & Ireland 1558—1603, 44 Years
Queen Elizabeth is the last among the monarch of the House of Tudor. She marks the third queen among the top ten longevity of the kings across the UK. It appears that women are stronger as compared to the male gender when it comes to the length of reign. Because three out of ten is not a bad ratio, given that there have only been six women monarchs in history. Queen Elizabeth ascended to power at the age of 25 on 17th November 1558 and reigned for 44 years, 127 days till her death in 1603 at the age of 69 years. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, depending on who the king marries next, Elizabeth’s chances of becoming the Monarch was limited because King Henry VIII was continually trying to make the male heir and she was still second in line behind her sister Mary who died young. Queen Elizabeth’s reign has been cited as a glorious reign because of defeating the Spanish Armada, the exploration of the New World, and the works of Shakespeare and Marlowe.
David II, King of Scots, Resigned June 7, 1329—February 22, 1371; 41 Years, 260 Days
He marks the second and last Monarch of the house of Bruce. King David II was among the longest-serving Scottish monarchs having reigned for 41 years and 269 days. The reign started in 1329 to 1371, she ascended to the sovereign power at the age of 5 years and died at the age of 46 years. His reign is one of the problematic Scottish monarchs’ ever because he had to defend his country against English forces in the second Scottish War of Independence. He was forced to exile in France where he was captured by the English army before the Treaty of Berwick ended the conflict in 1357. The war took the 3 bigger share of David II reign, and he also struggled with his problem of infertility which did his search for an heir fruitless. David II married his first wife at the age of 4 years and at 34 they had no child yet; he married the second wife that was also in vain, until he had to divorce his second wife claiming she is infertile even when she had children in her first marriage, meaning the infertility problem was on King David II’s side. He reigned for most of his life although he was never happy.