-- Queen Elizabeth II has reached another milestone, celebrating her Sapphire Jubilee today as she becomes the first British monarch to rule for more than 65 years.
Last year the queen, 90, surpassed Queen Victoria as the longest reigning monarch. She has served more than 13 British prime ministers and has been in power during 13 U.S. presidencies.
The anniversary is bittersweet for Queen Elizabeth, who always spends the day marking her accession to the throne privately at Sandringham and reflecting on the day in 1952 when her father, King George VI, died there.
Queen Elizabeth stopped on Sunday to greet well-wishers at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Norfolk on the Sandringham estate who had come to honor her.
The queen shows little sign of slowing down. While a "heavy cold" sidelined her briefly at Christmas, she continues to fulfill engagements around the country, attending many more events than some of the younger royals.
To mark the occasion, Buckingham Palace released a new portrait of her majesty taken by David Bailey in 2014 for a U.K. campaign that promotes the government's interests abroad.
In the portrait, the queen wears sapphire jewels given to her by her father as a wedding gift in 1947. The necklace features 16 rectangular sapphires surrounded by glittering diamonds. The queen paired the necklace with a matching pair of sapphire and diamond encrusted drop earrings.
While Queen Elizabeth loathes attention, the nation will mark her achievement nonetheless. A 41-gun salute will be fired today by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at midday, and a 62-gun salute will later be fired at the Tower of London.
The Royal Mail has issued a sapphire blue five-pound stamp and the Royal Mint has issued commemorative coins.
The queen has a busy year ahead. Later this year she will also celebrate a more personal milestone, 70 years of marriage and the platinum anniversary of her wedding to Prince Philip.
As the Queen said on her 21st birthday before ascending the throne, "I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."
After 65 years, her entire life has been devoted to duty, service and her country.