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The Longest Reigning Monarchs in History

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In 2015, Queen Elizabeth II became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. When she passed away on September 8, 2022, at the age of 96, she had just celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne.

Astonishingly, there are still other monarchs who have had longer reigns throughout history. While the average life expectancy was considerably lower in the past, many kings, queens, and emperors managed to reign for several decades. Some have even ruled for over 80 years.

King James IV and I

James IV was crowned king of Scotland in 1567, after his mother abdicated the throne. He later became James I of England, after Queen Elizabeth I died.

You might recognize his name from the Bible he commissioned in 1604. James reigned for a total of 57 years.

Queen Wilhelmina I of the Netherlands

Wilhelmina became queen at the age of 10, following her father’s death. Her mother acted as her regent until she turned 18. The monarch fled the country during World War II, returning in 1945. In 1948, Wilhelmina I abdicated the throne so her daughter, Juliana, could rule. Wilhelmina’s reign lasted 57 years.

Nicholas I

Nicholas I became the crown prince of Montenegro in 1860. By 1910, he declared himself king of the recently-proclaimed sovereign state. Nicholas I ruled for 58 years.

Pedro II

Pedro II became (the last) emperor of Brazil when he was five. He was crowned in 1841 and became known as “The Magnanimous.” A coup dictated the end of his rule of 58 years.

Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth became queen in 1952, following her father’s death. In 2015, she overtook Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, and became the longest-reigning queen in world history. Her reign lasted seven decades. Apparently, the late queen wasn’t phased. “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones; my own is no exception,” she said at the time. 

Louis XV

Louis XV became the king of France in 1715. He involved the country in a number of wars and his popularity plummeted, eventually triggering the French Revolution. Louis XV reigned for 58 years.

Honoré III

Prince Honoré III of Monaco became king in 1733, following his father’s abdication. He was eventually deposed in 1793, due to the French Revolution. Honoré III’s reign lasted 59 years.

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