June 2, 2012 -- intro: Elizabeth Alexandra Mary can celebrate her Diamond Jubilee all she wants this week. But her 60 years on the throne are second fiddle to Queen Victoria, whose 23,227 days as U.K. monarch still top the chart.
Alexandrina Victoria ruled for more than 63 years until her death in 1901 at age 81. Queen Elizabeth, 86 and counting, can still overtake her great-great-grandmother. Until then, however, here's the order of the five longest-reigning U.K. monarchs.
quicklist: 1 category: title: Queen Victoria text: Reign:1837 to 1901 (63 years, 7 months, and 3 days). Her courage in the face of seven attempts made on her life between 1840 and 1882 increased her popularity. She wore black for the last 40 years of her reign after her husband died at age 42, according to the Royal Household website.
quicklist: 2 category: title: Queen Elizabeth II text: Reign: 1952 to present (60 years, 3 months, and 28 days). Elizabeth has had 12 British prime ministers during her reign, two more than Victoria. This is the third Jubilee for Elizabeth, who marked the Sliver and Golden celebrations in 1977 and 2002, respectively.
quicklist: 3 category: title: King George III text: Reign: 1760 to 1820 (59 years, 3 months and 5 days). Although his monarchy fell shy of 60 years, "the celebration of the Sovereign's jubilee years really began in the long reign of King George III. The beginning of the 50th year of his reign, on 25 October 1809, was marked both in Britain and the Colonies," according to the Royal Household.
quicklist: 4 category: title: King James VI of Scotland text: Reign: 1567 to 1625 (57 years, 8 months and 3 days). Although the shrewd intellectual was described by some as "the most effective ruler Scotland ever had," philosopher David Hume was less impressed: "Many virtues ... it must be owned, he was possessed of, but no one of them pure, or free from the contagion of the neighboring vices"; Henri IV of France called James "the wisest fool in Christendom," according to the Royal Household.
quicklist: 5 category: title: King Henry III of England text: Reign: 1216 to 1272 (56 years and 30 days). Assuming the throne at age 9, Henry went on to become an extravagant ruler whose subjects resented his tax demands. But his "accounts show a list of many charitable donations and payments for building works (including the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey which began in 1245)," according to the Royal Household.