Monday 31 August 2015

626. Longest Reigning Monarch Ever.

  No one can now be unaware that Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest reigning monarch in English and British history on 9 September 2015 when she passes the record set by her great great grandmother, Victoria, who ruled The United Kingdom and its Empire for 63 years and 216 days (1840 - 1901).
  In recent blogs (see Blog 622) I have detailed stamps which have been issued or are about to be issued to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's achievement. But where does that achievement place her in the all-time list of world monarchs? 
  Wikipedia places another Commonwealth monarch, King Sobhuza II of Swaziland, in the all-time number 1 position - a total of 82 years and 254 days (1899 - 1982) which means that Queen Elizabeth will have to reign for another 19 years to achieve the title of longest reigning monarch in history by which time she will be 108 years old - a not impossible feat given that her mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon lived to be 101 years old. 
   King Sobhuza may have ruled Swaziland for a very long time but for much of the period - up to 1968 - the country was not a fully independent state since it was a British Protectorate and then a British Protected State.
  Places 2 to 21 in the "Longest Reigning Monarch" list are mostly taken up by rulers of various German and Indian petty states with a ruler of one of the states of Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia (Tampin), Tunku Besar Idris ibni Muhammed al-Qadri, in the number 5 position with a reign of 76 years and 209 days (1929 - 2005) - he was not featured on any stamps despite the extraordinary  length of his reign.
  By far the most significant monarch to appear in the "Top 20" list is Louis XIV, The Sun King, who ironically ruled the country which was to end its centuries of monarchy with a bloody and violent revolution - France. Louis ruled France for 72 years and 110 days (1643 - 1715) which places him at number 12 in the longest reign list.

  Of other European countries which are sovereign states today, Liechtenstein also has a monarch in the list - Prince John II - who ruled for 70 years and 91 days (1858 - 1929). He is the 17th longest ruling monarch.

  In the number 22 place is the world's current longest ruling monarch - King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) who has ruled Thailand since 9 June 1946 - more than 69 years. This is a reign of a little under 6 years longer than that of Queen Elizabeth II.

  In position 32 is Emperor Franz Joseph I who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire for 67 years and 355 days (1848 - 1916). 

  As regards monarchs of Commonwealth territories, the next highly placed ruler to appear on a stamp is Sultan Ibrahim of Johor who ruled for 63 years and 338 days (1895 - 1959) putting him at number 45 in the longest ruling list with Queen Elizabeth II rapidly catching him up. With the soon to be passed Queen Victoria at number 48, Queen Elizabeth has only to outrule 2 rulers of former German states to place her within touching distance of passing Sultan Ibrahim's lengthy reign.

  There is one important name which is missing from the Wikipedia list - that of Pharoah Pepi II of the 6th dynasty of ancient Egypt who is said by some experts, though disputed by others, to have reigned for 94 years (c. 2294 B.C. to c. 2200 B.C.), having succeeded to the throne at the age of 6. This would make him by far the longest reigning monarch in history and mean that for her to achieve that title, Queen Elizabeth II would need to reign for another 31 years by which time she would be aged 120 - well, given what's happening in medicine - who knows, she just may do it! 

   Finally, what of non-royal rulers? Wikipedia identifies Fidel Castro as the longest ruling non-royal head of government since 1900 having completed 52 years and 62 days in power from 1959 to 2010. He is followed by Chiang Kai-shek (46 years and 82 days) and Kim Il-sung (45 years and 302 days).

  In The Commonwealth, President Paul Biya has ruled Cameroun for over 40 years in the roles of prime minister and president (no. 8) with the leaders of 2 former Commonwealth countries at no. 16 (Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, (35 years +) and Dauda Jawara of The Gambia (32 years and 40 days, 1962 - 1994) respectively.
  President Biya is the current longest ruling non-royal leader in the world with Mugabe at number 5.


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