5-minute listening: The world’s longest-reigning monarchs

  • Practise your English with our short listening exercises: play the audio linked below; answer the questions; and check the answers at the bottom of the page
  • This week’s podcast is a tribute to Queen Elizabeth, who has just marked her 70-year reign, as well as some of the longest serving rulers in history
Doris Wai |

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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth photographed ahead of her Platinum Jubilee Year. She is one of the longest reigning monarchs in history. Photo: Chris Jackson/Buckingham Palace/Handout via REUTERS.

Click on the video below for the audio.

Play a Kahoot! game about this podcast as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:


1. How many years has Queen Elizabeth been on the throne?
A. 17
B. 70
C. 72
D. 90

2. What is Louis XIV also known as?
A. Good King Louis
B. The Father of the People
C. Louis the Great
D. The Sun King

3. What do Louis XIV and King Bhumibol have in common according to the podcast?
A. They were heads of their countries for a longer period of time than Queen Elizabeth.
B. They both became kings at a very young age.
C. They were popular monarchs who were well-loved by the people.
D. They were both conquerors who expanded their empires.

4. What is another phrase for “ascended to the throne”?
A. held authority
B. achieved royal status
C. became monarch
D. none of the above

5. What performing art was Louis XIV talented in?
A. ballet
B. opera
C. drama
D. mime

6. What does the phrase “widely revered” suggest about King Bhumibol?
A. He was often criticised by those who served him.
B. He was respected and admired by his people.
C. He terrorised the people whom he ruled over.
D. He was feared by his enemies.

7. What was Emperor Franz Joseph blamed for?
A. the death of his son
B. getting his country involved in a major war
C. the fall of the Habsburg dynasty
D. all of the above

8. Which of the following can replace “inherited”?
A. brought in
B. picked up
C. took over
D. came by

9. Why did George VI pass on the throne to Queen Elizabeth?
A. because he wanted to migrate to another country
B. because he was tired of being king
C. because he was forced to do so by his people
D. none of the above

10. What is the Victorian age named after?
A. Queen Victoria’s favourite child
B. Queen Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother
C. King George VI’s daughter
D. King George VI’s mother

11. Complete the profile of the following monarchs mentioned in the podcast.
(i) Louis XIV
Ruled over: _________________
Period of reign: _________________

(ii) King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Ruled over: _________________
Period of reign: _________________

(iii) Emperor Franz Joseph
Ruled over: _________________
Period of reign: _________________

(iv) Queen Victoria
Ruled over: _________________
Period of reign: _________________


1. B
2. D
3. A
4. C
5. A
6. B
7. D
8. C
9. D
10. B


The script has been adapted from Agence France-Presse.

Voice 1: At the grand old age of 95, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is the world’s longest-reigning living monarch. She celebrated 70 years on the throne on February 6. Her reign has been surpassed by just two other major monarchs in recorded history – France’s 17th-century “Sun King” Louis XIV and Thailand’s King Bhumibol.

Voice 2: The “Sun King”, who reigned for 72 years between 1643 and 1715, is the longest-reigning monarch on record. Born in 1638, Louis ascended to the throne at the age of four. Louis was an accomplished conqueror who made France one of the most powerful countries in Europe. He built the immense Palace of Versailles near Paris, which still stands today. Louis was a big supporter of the arts and was even a gifted ballet dancer himself.

Voice 1: Meanwhile, the modern record for longest reign is held by Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, crowned under the name of Rama IX in June 1946. The widely revered monarch died in October 2016 at the age of 88. His seven turmoil-laden decades on the throne were marked by coups and street protests, throughout which he was seen as a figure of constancy.

Voice 2: Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph is equally impressive, who reigned for nearly 68 years between 1848 and 1916. The head of the powerful Habsburg dynasty ruled over more than 50 million people. Seen as both a custodian of imperial glory and the tragic figure responsible for its decline, many people blame him for his son’s suicide, as well as the decisions he made which led his country into World War I.

Voice 1: As for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, she inherited the throne on February 8, 1952 at the age of 25 after the death of her father, George VI. The Queen will overtake King Bhumibol Adulyadej as the longest-reigning modern monarch if she is still on the throne on June 12, 2022. Her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, reigned for almost 64 years, from 1837 until 1901, when the British Empire was at its height. She was the reason this time has been named the Victorian age.

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