Britain's Queen Elizabeth to mark six-decade reign

Mon Jun 3, 2013 6:11pm EDT
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By Costas Pitas

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II will go back to the scene of her coronation on Tuesday to mark a reign that has weathered six decades of social transformation and the end of her country's global empire.

Millions of Britons gathered round brand new black-and-white television sets to watch her get crowned in Westminster Abbey in June 1953.

Sixty years on, the cameras will be back to film her joining around 2,000 guests, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, for the official anniversary celebrations in the historic church.

The event sees her edging towards Queen Victoria's record as Britain's longest-serving monarch. Victoria died in 1901 after more than 63 years and seven months on the throne.

Elizabeth was crowned while Winston Churchill - the prime minister who saw Britain through the Second World War - was back in office.

Hers was the 38th coronation to take place at the Abbey, a tradition launched in 1066 by William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England.

In a sign that the toll of official engagements may be bearing down on the 87-year-old monarch, the Queen was accompanied by her son and likely successor, Charles, during May's opening of parliament where she read the government's legislative program.

Her health was also in the spotlight earlier in the year when she succumbed to a bout of gastroenteritis and canceled a number of engagements.

(Reporting By Costas Pitas; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth smiles as she attends the Epsom Derby, in Epsom, south of London June 1, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning