Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II received world congratulations on officially surpassing Queen Victoria’s record as the longest reigning British monarch at 1630 GMT on 9 September 2015. Her reign has witnessed great achievements in medical science, personal computer technology, and especially in astronautics – the science of spaceflight.
The celebration of her reign was, no doubt, tinged with sadness for her as its start in 1952 also marked the death of her father, Bertie, King George V, who gave such good service as head of state during World War II. During her 63 year reign, Queen Elizabeth II has actually been a constant in an ever changing world. World leaders have come and gone, individual countries have prospered and declined, new technologies and social attitudes have arrived, and old technologies and ways of life have been left behind.
While Queen Victoria did not quite live long enough to witness birth of powered flight, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II witnessed the birth of the space age in 1957 and, four years later, the start of manned spaceflight. She met Yuri Gagarin after his first manned orbital flight in 1961 and later met the crew of Apollo 11, led by Neil Armstrong, after their landing on the Moon in 1969.
The Queen and Prince Philip have even visited NASA during visits to the United States of America and have visited space companies in Europe, although clean room etiquette famously does not really apply to monarchs and she was allowed to keep her hat on at SSTL.
While, like all of us, Her Majesty has made a few mistakes during her reign in her dealings with the public and even with her own family, overall she has done her duty and given excellent service to the United Kingdom, to the Commonwealth, and to the World. And for that she deserves our gratitude.