Today will mark another milestone in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II as she makes history by becoming the longest serving British Monarch.
Church bells will ring out from Westminster Abbey in London in recognition of the moment she takes the title, previously held by her great-grandmother Queen Victoria.
During her after 63 years and 216 days on the throne so far, the monarch has made a series of visits to Sunderland, as well as Durham,
Ahead of that, while she was still a princess, she joined celebrations held on the banks of the cities’ river on Wednesday, May 1, 1946, when she named the 12-tonne tanker British Princess at Sunderland’s Deptford Yard of Sir James Laing and Sons.
As Queen, she returned to Sunderland, taking in its train station in the company of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on May 18, 1993, and also visited the city’s Red House estate as part of the Diamond Jubilee exhibition celebrating 60 years of her reign.
On the same day, the couple watched a flypast by a Vulcan bomber from Corporation Quay and attended a reception at the city’s Civic Centre, where huge crowds gathered to welcome her.
Bishop of Durham Paul Butler
On December 7, 2000, she officially opened Sunderland Royal Hospital’s new £15million maternity unit.
The expansion of the Metro line between Sunderland and Gateshead was officially launched by the Queen in May 7, 2002.
In on July 14, 1977, she visited Durham, including its castle, and has also visited East Durham, in on May 9, 2002, when she took a tour of its seafront and met youngsters.
The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler has been among those to offer his congratulations on her long reign.
He said: “Her Majesty has served our nation phenomenally well as monarch.
“As a diocese we send her our heartfelt congratulations on becoming our nation’s longest reigning monarch.
“Her life of duty, service and care is exemplary.
“We thank God for her, and the Duke of Edinburgh, who has served alongside her so faithfully. “We continue to pray that God will bless Queen Elizabeth II.”
Bishop Paul will preach a sermon in Durham Cathedral this evening in a service of Thanksgiving For Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
A special prayer, produced by the Church of England Liturgical Commission and approved by Buckingham Palace, will be said at around 17.30, the time at which Her Majesty becomes the longest-reigning monarch. The sermon at the service will be given by the Bishop.
The Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon, said: “I feel passionately that we should recognise and celebrate the fact that Her Majesty the Queen becomes the longest reigning Monarch on Wednesday and it is fitting that we are holding this special service at Durham Cathedral, which is a wonderful place of celebration and worship at the heart of our community.”