As far as I know these were the only reigning queens of England/The United Kingdom. I have always wondered why some are not as well known/popular. Elizabeth II makes sense for obvious reasons, but other than that I am puzzled.

2 Answers 2


(Note that there are no Kings and Queens of England anymore. The last person with that title was Queen Anne. Victoria and Elizabeth II are more properly "Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland".)

Elizabeth I reigned for 45 years, and ruled during the defeat of the Spanish Armada, which marked the rise of England as the pre-eminent naval power, and also during the flowering of English letters represented by Shakespeare and others.

Victoria reigned for 63 years, oversaw the zenith of the British empire, ruling over more land and people than anyone before or since.

So those two aren't random people, but both among the longest reigns in English history, both at pivotal points in English history.

Elizabeth II is of course the current living monarch, and so obviously popular by that token, and also the longest reigning English monarch.

In contrast...

Mary I reigned for a five years and was unpopular as a catholic ruler in a largely protestant nation.

Mary II also reigned for only five years, and was a co-ruler with her husband William.

Anne reigned for twelve years.

So you have three women who are among the longest reigning monarchs in history, all who oversaw pivotal moments in English history vs. three women with short reigns, who in one case, was explicitly ejected, the other two reigned during relatively uneventful periods. So the relative popularities should not be unexpected.

Or to look at it another way, Elizabeth I, Victoria and Elizabeth II represent over 160 years of English history. Mary I, Mary II and Anne represent 22 years of English history.

  • 1
    You regard the War of Spanish Succession (1702-1715 and virtually identical to Queen Anne's reign of 1702-1714) and the Acts of Union 1707 between England and Scotland as "a time of not much historical significance". How wrong you are. Apr 14, 2017 at 17:25
  • Also; neither Victoria nor Elizabeth II were/are English monarchs. Apr 16, 2017 at 10:22
  • @ConradTurner Elizabeth I was "Queen of England and Ireland", but in any case, I didn't want to muddy the waters given the questioner asked referring to all three women as "Queens of England". Apr 16, 2017 at 21:18
  • @StevenBurnap Elizabeth I was queen of England and Ireland, but they were separate kingdoms until 1801 (or rather after the Treaty/Acts of Union 1706/7, Ireland was a separate kingdom from Great Britain) , so she was still queen of England. Apr 18, 2017 at 6:45
  • @StevenBurnap, I changed it to England/The United Kingdom. Is that better? Apr 18, 2017 at 20:41

The latter group of queens "projected" better. As another poster pointed out, the latter group of monarchs reigned, individually and collectively far longer than the first group of monarchs, but that is only part of the story.

Queen Elizabeth II is regarded by some as a "retiring" monarch, but is a media sensation by virtue of reigning during modern times. She also upheld the institution of monarchy as a beacon during a period when Britain was in relative decline.

Queen Victoria was the "grandmother of Europe"(of European royalty), actually). Her children married into European royalty and produced 42 grandchildren, which included Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Tsar Nicholas of Russia, as well as the British royal family. She also reigned over an Empire on which the "sun never set," the most expansive in history.

Queen Elizabeth I was the opposite of Queen Victoria, the "Virgin Queen," who nevertheless "flirted" with any number of eligible European princes for the sake of maintaining the European balance of power. Like Queen Anne below, she reigned at a time of military turmoil and triumph, but more than Queen Anne, Elizabeth I was known for successful domestic policies, including the exploration of what we now know as "American" waters. She was also the daughter of, and welcome contrast to Henry VIII, who was one of the more "projectible" male monarchs.

On the other hand,

Mary I was known as "bloody Mary" for burning Protestants at the stake, is more infamous than famous, and best forgotten.

Mary II was a retiring woman who let her Dutch husband take the limelight for their joint achievements in the Glorious Revolution, and is best known as the female half of "William and Mary."

Queen Anne reigned during a very notable period, the War of Spanish Succession, but was overshadowed by the great military leader, the Duke of Marlborough. This, and her other great achievement, the 1707 Act of Union, was not as triumphant or as complete as Elizabeth I's. (The War of Spanish succession was a "draw" more than a win, and the Act of Union included only Scotland, which challenged the United Kingdom as late as 1745, and not Ireland.)

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