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February of this year is notable for the fact that the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is celebrating her sapphire anniversary, marking 65 years on the British throne. She has reigned as queen of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom since 6 February 1952. Elizabeth II is not only the first monarch in British history to celebrate the sapphire anniversary, surpassing Queen Victoria who ruled for 64 years, but her reign marks a multitude of other records globally. Elizabeth II is now:

  • The most durable crowned ruler in world history, after the passing in October 2016 of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.
  • The world's most elderly woman among current heads of state. In Europe, she is the oldest head of state, male or female.
  • The oldest ruling monarch, following the death in January 2015 of King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saudh of Saudi Arabia.

Throughout the reign of Elizabeth II, her empire has transformed and world events have called on the modern British Empire but also built up its economic and political character and strength:

  • The decolonization process was completed during Elizabeth II’s reign, concluding with the dismantling of the British Empire and its transformation into the Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth includes 12 now independent nations: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
  • Her reign also includes the prolonged ethnopolitical conflict in Northern Ireland, the Falklands War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which included the deployment of British ground troops.

The economic performance of the United Kingdom during the reign of Elizabeth II as measured by standard indicators and indices has likely been a boon to the survival of the monarchy. Elizabeth II has maintained the prestige of the British monarchy and its popularity has surged in the United Kingdom despite perpetual criticism from supporters of the abolition of the monarchy as well as some segments of the British media and the general public.

  • During Elizabeth's II rule, GDP per capita in the United Kingdom has risen to $40,412 in 2016 from about $2,186 in 1960, while total GDP has increased almost 120 times from 1952 to 2016, averaging roughly $2.7 billion for each of the last 10 years. The United Kingdom is now ranked among the top 10 countries globally by GDP.
  • Since the start of Elizabeth's II rule in 1952, the inflation rate in the UK rocketed two times to 24 percent in 1975 and to 18 percent in 1980 but after that, it gradually decreased and now, the inflation rate in the UK is classified as low at 1.6 percent as of December 2016. Continued inflation rates this low could signal economic weakness, particularly in the labor market; however, the unemployment rate in the UK remains at about 4.8 percent of the total labor force.
  • The United Kingdom appears to be equally strong on the basis of the quality of governance. According to the Global Innovation Index, the United Kingdom ranked third in 2016 after Sweden and Switzerland and one position ahead of the United States based on the quality of public services, civil service and its independence from political pressures, and quality of policy formulation and implementation, among other measures.

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