Our Head of State has recently been congratulated on becoming our longest reigning monarch, upon surpassing the 63 years and 216 days of Queen Victoria (aka Princess Alexandrina of Saxe Coburg Gotha). Now ... I would not wish to say anything which even seemed discourteous about a lady who is ten times the superior of any of her detractors ...
... but among those who have submitted messages of congratulation are the Roman Pontiff and His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. And there is a diverting little historical oddity tucked away here.
From his Accession on September 16 1701 until his demise on January 1 1766, our late Sovereign Lord King James III and VIII was recognised as the Sovereign of the Three Kingdoms by European states which included the Holy See. And it was he who formally nominated the Vicars Apostolic of the London District (whom Cardinal Nichols proclaims, on the brass tablets inside his Cathedral Church, to be his predecessors).
And King James III reigned for 64 years and more than 100 days ... being lazy I won't try to tot up exactly how many days because I'd probably get it wrong by juggling the OS and NS dates clumsily.
But I'm sure that, some time next year, Pope Francis, and Cardinal Nichols, will congratulate the Head of State again, on her surpassing the length of the reign of that august Sovereign who, so far, is the longest reigning British Monarch recognised as such by the Holy See, King James III.
Catholics who truly respect the Papal Magisterium will be expecting this to happen. Surely, all those popes ... Clement XI, Innocent XIII, Benedict XIII, Clement XII, Benedict XIV, Clement XIII ... can't have been wrong about who, in the sight of God (non voluntate hominum sed Dei, as a later Most Eminent King was to put it on one of his medals), was truly our Sovereign?