LONDON — It was a day for the history books. But it was not in her majesty's temperament to make much of a fuss.
On Wednesday, at about 5:30 p.m., Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in Great Britain's proud history, dating back more than a millennium to the days when kings and queens enjoyed absolute power.
Serving as sovereign for 23,226 days (about 63 years and 7 months), according to Buckingham Palace, Elizabeth surpassed Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother, a woman so powerful that she stamped an era with her name.
Elizabeth II has served longer than Henry VIII (37 years), longer than any of the various King Richards, far longer than her own father, King George VI (15 years).
Wednesday was a day of astonishing achievement, but the 89-year-old queen marked it as she has done so many times before: quietly going about her business, opening a railway line, unveiling a plaque, meeting her subjects.
She did acknowledge the event, however, telling an adoring crowd on Wednesday at a Scottish railway station it was not a milestone she had sought out.
"I thank you all, and all of the many others at home and overseas, for your touching messages of great kindness," said Elizabeth, wearing a two-tone blue coat and matching hat. "(It was) not one to which I have ever aspired."
Oversize photographs of Elizabeth dominated most newspapers, with the tone set by the Daily Telegraph, which called the queen "our rock of stability for 63 years" in its headline.