Like many Americans, I am an avid watcher of historical television series produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation or other such entities. A case in point was the just-concluded first season of “Victoria,” starring the winsome “Doctor Who” alumna Jenna Coleman in the role of the world’s longest-reigning monarch. Victoria occupied the throne for an astonishing 63 years, with a succession of governments led by 20 Prime Ministers.
However, Queen Victoria’s record was superseded in 2016, when the 64th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was observed. Elizabeth II will turn 91 in April 2017. Apart from maintaining a less rigorous schedule she shows little sign of slowing down. I feel it’s safe to say it is unlikely that another British monarch will be on the throne longer than Elizabeth II. Consider this: her son and successor, Charles, Prince of Wales, is already 68 years of age!
A hobby of mine is collecting coins, particularly those that commemorate important historical events and personages. Coins are “portable art,” and the only of kind art I can afford. Commemorative coins of anniversaries of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign struck by the British Royal Mint have been of particular interest to me. They are available in a range of metals, even gold, although circumstances force me to stick to cupro/nickel. Despite this humble combination, the highly-polished coins (called “brilliant” in numismatic lingo) are quite beautiful.
I began collecting these coins in 2002. Each one is packaged in an attractive presentation folder illustrated with photographs and text that describe the milestone in the Queen’s life that a particular coin celebrates. Here are the QE II commemorative coins I own:
2002: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee
2006: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Eightieth Birthday
2007: Her Majesty the Queen & His Royal Highness Prince Philip Diamond Wedding Crown
2012: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
2016: The 90th Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen
2017: The Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee
The monarchy isn’t universally beloved. With the dissolution of the British Empire following World War II, and uncertainty in recent years about the future of the British Commonwealth, some people believe it a costly anachronism. Other folks declare the institution so deeply rooted in national life that embodies the very idea of “England.”
One thing is certain: Elizabeth II is unlikely to retire from her post so long as she is capable of occupying the throne with the grace and force of personality that she has exhibited since 1952.