Queen Elizabeth II is set to become Britain’s longest reigning monarch on Wednesday as she breaks the record once held by Queen Victoria, her great-great grandmother. The Queen, aged 89, will have reigned for over 63 years.
The British parliament will observe a half-hour recess to pay tribute to the Queen whilst a flotilla of historic boats and cruisers are to set sail down London’s River Thames to mark the occasion.
The Queen visited Hong Kong twice during the British colonial era. Once in May 1975 and again in October 1986, two years after the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed.
During her visit in the 70s, the Queen and her husband Prince Philip visited City Hall, Morse Park, Oi Man Estate, Hung Hom MTR station, the University of Hong Kong and the Kwai Chung container port. They watched the first fireworks display since the 1967 riots.
In 1986, the Queen paid a second visit to Hong Kong and became the first British monarch to visit China.
In the run-up to the 1997 Handover to China, all public offices replaced their flags, the Queen’s portrait disappeared from postage stamps and offices and the “Royal” title was dropped from almost all institutions. References to the “Crown” were switched to the “State”, the British honours system was replaced by the Grand Bauhinia Medal award and the public holiday for the Queen’s birthday gave way to the Buddha’s Birthday holiday. Royal Mail pillar boxes were repainted and Hong Kong’s membership of the Commonwealth ended.
However, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club voted to keep its Royal prefix in English. Today, it remains one of the few reminders of Hong Kong’s Commonwealth links.