With Queen Elizabeth II overtaking the record for longest-reigning British monarch, we investigate what other British institutions have reigned as long.
At approximately 5.30pm tonight, Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest reigning British monarch, overtaking the current record set by her great-great grandmother. The record currently stands at 63 years and 216 days, or 22,226 total days, and is held by Queen Victoria, who reigned between the years of 1837 and 1901. With the current retirement age standing at 66, the Queen, now aged 89, is still working; even today, the day that marks her record-breaking achievement.
Below, we take a look at what else started its working life in 1952: the year that Queen Elizabeth took to the throne.
Named by Guinness World Records as the longest running children’s television programme, the character Sooty first came to prominence in the year of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, on the programme Saturday Special. His yellow fur and cheeky persona captured the children of Britain, even though they would never hear him talk! Since his first appearance, there have been a large number of programmes based around Sooty, and over the years he gained new friends, such as Sweep and Soo. Created by Harry Corbett, who bought the puppet from Blackpool for his son, Sooty is still appearing on television today, with a series currently airing on CITV.
The University of Southampton
Although it first opened and began accepting students in 1862, under the name of the Hartley Institution, the University of Southampton was not eligible to award its own degrees. Instead, all degrees earned whilst at the university were awarded under the name of the University of London. This changed when Queen Elizabeth awarded her first Royal Charter to the university in the same year as her coronation, making it the first post-war university to be created. The university then created six different faculties, and were able to award their first degrees from July 1953.
Commercial Air Travel
Although these days getting on an airplane to travel all over the world is considered normal, just over 60 years ago this was not something that everyone was able to do. Trips to other countries would be extremely rare for most people, and those that did go abroad would have to travel via boat. This was all set to change however, as in 1952 the de Havilland Comet made its first flight between London and Johannesburg, making it the world’s first jet airliner. It carried passengers who had paid a fare to be on board, and its scheduling paved the way for modern airport timetables.
When the NHS was conceived in 1948, it revolutionised health care in the United Kingdom, bringing a good quality of healthcare to all UK residents. It brought together hospitals, doctors, nurses, opticians and dentists together with pharmacists to provide free health services. Initially, prescriptions were free, however in 1952 a charge of one shilling, which equates to about 5p today, were introduced due to the high costs the NHS were faced with. This fee was abolished in 1965, however it had to be reinstated just three years later due to massive costs. The fees did not increase much until 1982, when the prices started increasing by around 20p each year. Today the fee stands at £8.20 per item – who wishes we were still paying 5p?
End of the Tea Ration
It’s the staple drink for a large proportion of British people, we’ve even referenced being a brew drinker as a way of knowing you’re British in a previous blog! However between 1939 and 1952, the popular drink was rationed for citizens of Great Britain. Thttps://www.ncchomelearning.co.uk/blog/top-10-reasons-you-know-youre-british/his was due to the Second World War, and it wasn’t just tea that was on ration – the supply of everything from bacon to biscuits was controlled. Clothing and material was also rationed, and royalty was no exception to these rules. Well-wishers ahead of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding to Prince Philip sending their ration coupons for material to make her dress, however she did return them all. During the tea ration, one adult was only allowed to purchase 2 ounces a week – a stark contrast to figures from 2012 which show that the UK drink a total of 165 million cups per day!
UK Singles Chart
Before 1952, the popularity of a song was determined by how many sheets of music it had sold. This all changed a few months after Elizabeth became Queen, as the New Musical Express (NME) decided to start ranking songs based on how many copies of records had sold each week. Initially, 52 record stores across the country began reporting their sales figures on a weekly basis, a small number compared to the 6,500 shops who contribute their totals today. Throughout the years, there have been an estimated 1,200 number one singles, and people still tune in weekly to listen to the charts.