Queen Elizabeth II already in NZ's record books

  • 09/09/2015
Queen Elizabeth II (Reuters)
Queen Elizabeth II (Reuters)

By Julia Hollingsworth

The Queen is about to enter the record books as the longest-serving British monarch, but she's already New Zealand's most steadfast sovereign.

Queen Elizabeth II passes the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria today who reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes.

But Queen Victoria's reign was three years shorter in New Zealand - she technically only became our ruler when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed - meaning Queen Elizabeth actually became New Zealand's longest-reigning monarch back in 2013.

Monarchy NZ's chairman Dr Sean Palmer expects today's landmark to pass almost as quietly as when she broke the record in New Zealand.

"My understanding is she doesn't want a big spectacle," he told NZ Newswire.

"Her record-setting reign is partly due to the fact that Queen Victoria died by that point and I think there wouldn't be any great desire to be celebrating that sort of thing.

"The achievement comes down to longevity."

During the Queen's 63-year-reign she has dealt with a number of issues in the royal family including Princess Diana's death, Prince Charles' affair and more recently, sex allegations against Prince Andrew.

Huge crowds came out during her first of 10 trips to New Zealand, but in a later visit in the 80s, protesters threw eggs at her.

"All public leaders have ups and downs in their popularity," Dr Palmer said.

She's viewed fondly by most New Zealanders, but Dr Palmer points out her popularity isn't unusual for a British ruler.

"Given most of us have known no monarch other than Queen Elizabeth, it's very easy to forget that her father was an exceptionally popular figure and that his father was an exceptionally popular figure.

"When people say you know what, I will devote just about every single day of my life to good causes ... that's a very positive thing. It tends to engender some respect and appreciation."

New Zealand Republic's chairman Savage, who goes by just that name, says her ability to stay neutral and not interfere with the political process is something people like about her - and an ability some think is missing in her heir Prince Charles.

"She's just always been the Queen as far as people remember. And she's certainly never said anything offensive or anything that would make New Zealanders think ill of her," he told NZ Newswire.

"She's got the best doctors in Britain looking after her and she leads a healthy lifestyle so it's no surprise she's lasted as long as she has."

The Queen's record pales in comparison to King Sobhuza II of Swaziland, who holds the title of longest-reigning monarch anywhere in the world with his rule that began when he was a one-year-old and lasted 82 years, 254 days from 1899-1982.