5 Longest Reigning British Monarchs

The British monarchy has experienced all kinds of rulers over its nearly 1,200 year history. The 5 longest reigning British monarchs come from a variety of different centuries.

In total there have been 61 individual monarchs dating all the way back to the Saxon kings prior to the Norman invasion. These monarchs all have storied pasts and ruled for various lengths of time.

What constitutes an official monarch can be up for debate. For instance, Lady Jane Grey ruled for a total of 9 days, though she was only proclaimed queen by the Lords of the Council. Thus her reign is usually not included and is disputed.

For those familiar with British history, the list of the 5 longest is likely not too surprising, with some familiar names included. See the graphic below for the length of time.

5 Longest Reigning British Monarchs

5 Longest Reigning British Monarchs chart

The 5 longest reigning British monarchs are as follows (with dates of reign):

  • Elizabeth II: (February 6, 1952 – present)
  • Victoria: (June 20, 1837 – January 22, 1901)
  • George III: (October 25, 1760 – January 29, 1820)
  • James VI: (July 24, 1567 – March 27, 1625)
  • Henry III: (October 28, 1216 – November 16, 1272)

A quick couple highlights from each of their reigns are below:

Elizabeth II

The current ruler of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II’s reign has been the longest in the country’s history. She began her rule in the aftermath of World War II, and oversaw and lead the country through as the empire slowly dissolved.

Her leadership as the country transitioned to modern times has been well respected. The monarchy has had to transform in the current age, and Elizabeth has been well lauded in how she has handled it.


Victoria was the longest reigning monarch until Elizabeth II overtook her spot. Her reign was a high point for the British Empire – where it acquired India as a colony and nearly doubled in size.

She was an immensely popular ruler in England and helped to create many colleges and museums.

George III

George III is well known to most Americans as the King George who hurled unjust laws upon the American colonies. He was thus in charge when the empire lost the American colonies, and was the newly formed United States’ main adversary during their initial early years (including the War of 1812).

George III suffered from a mental illness late in his reign and thus a regency was set up to rule in his stead until his death.

James VI

James VI was the first king to rule over both England and Scotland. When you see or hear of the King James Version of the Bible – this is the James they speak of as well.

Henry III

Henry III is the monarch from the earliest time period on this list, ruling in the 13th century. He began his reign at the age of 9, taking over from King John (who had just signed the Magna Carta).

Henry III was very devoted to church and art. He was the one who ordered the Westminster Abbey to be rebuilt in the Gothic style. Parliament and the House of Commons was also created under his rule (though this was more forced, than by choice).


Source: The History Press

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