6 February 2012 marks the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne of the United Kingdom and its Colonies (now known as Overseas Territories) and of the other Dominions in the Commonwealth.
She’s only the second monarch of the United Kingdom to celebrate 60 years on the throne. Her great-great-grandmother, Victoria, celebrated her own Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Her grandfather, George III, died just ten months short of his.
Her regnal number (“the Second”) caused considerable controversy in Scotland, where it was argued that the UK had never had a Queen Elizabeth the First. Indeed, a spate of pillar boxes and phone boxes being blown up by Scottish nationalists in the early years of the reign caused the GPO to replace them with boxes bearing only the Crown of Scotland and no initials.
However, the convention is that the Sovereign takes the highest regnal number appropriate to any of the Kingdoms. In other words, if there’s ever a King David of the United Kingdom, he’ll be King David III as Scotland has already had two kings of that name – even though England has never had one.