London - Queen Elizabeth II and her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria were Britain’s longest-reigning monarchs, who both came to the throne young yet remained a steady presence through eras of dramatic change. When they were born, both Victoria and Elizabeth were thought unlikely ever to inherit the crown. But both women embraced the role thrust upon them and became much-loved national matriarchs.   Elizabeth’s duty-driven style of monarchy was directly rooted in her illustrious ancestor’s example.

Elizabeth and Victoria were both “exceptionally conscientious, strong-minded women, determined to do it absolutely as correctly as they could”, royalty writer Andrew Gimson told AFP.

By the end of their reigns, both were seen as the embodiment of contemporary Britain. Elizabeth reigned for 70 years and 214 days -- the first British sovereign to celebrate a platinum jubilee.

 At her state funeral on Monday, Elizabeth’s coffin will be carried on the same gun carriage used for Victoria’s funeral.   Victoria’s reign lasted 63 years and 216 days -- a record Elizabeth overtook on September 9, 2015.  In line with the duty-first attitude, Elizabeth only briefly referenced the occasion, while opening a railway line in Scotland.  She wore a diamond-studded brooch that once belonged to Victoria, but said the landmark was “not one to which I have ever aspired”.

Camilla hails Queen Elizabeth, 

a ‘solitary woman’ in a man’s world

Britain’s new Queen Consort Camilla paid tribute Sunday to Queen Elizabeth II for carving her own role as a “solitary woman” in a world dominated by men.   In her first public comments broadcast since Queen Elizabeth’s death, King Charles III’s wife said it must have been “so difficult” for the late monarch, who inherited the throne in 1952 when she was just 25 years old. Her pre-recorded comments to BBC television were to be aired later Sunday before the national minute’s silence at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT).   “She’s been part of our lives for ever. I’m 75 now and I can’t remember anyone except The Queen being there,” Camilla said. “It must have been so difficult for her being a solitary woman.  “There weren’t women prime ministers or presidents. She was the only one so I think she carved her own role.”

Remembering her late mother-in-law, Camilla added: “She’s got those wonderful blue eyes, that when she smiles they light up her whole face.

“I will always remember her smile. That smile is unforgettable.” In February this year, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of her accession to throne, Queen Elizabeth ended all debate about how Camilla should be known once her eldest son Charles became king. The monarch said it was her “sincere wish” for her to be known as the Queen Consort, “as she continues her own loyal service”.

Camilla has taken on the role with a minimum of fuss after gradually overcoming public opposition that lasted years. Camilla has been travelling around Britain with the new sovereign. She also took part in a brief walkabout outside Buckingham Palace, the proclamation of the new king and trips to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Charles and Camilla finally married in 2005 after a long-running love affair that was at times adulterous.  Camilla has faced longstanding dislike from many British people, who blame her for the failure of Charles’s first marriage to Diana, princess of Wales.  While Camilla is not topping polls of the most popular royals, her approval rating has hugely improved.