London: As Britain celebrates the Diamond Jublee of Queen Elizabeth's reign, she has been voted as the country's greatest ever monarch ahead of Queen Victoria in an opinion poll on Sunday.

Elizabeth II, 86, comes out on top in an ICM survey for The Sunday Telegraph, with Victoria in second place, Elizabeth I in the third, and Henry VIII and Henry V finishing behind the queens.

In the vote to find the greatest monarch, Queen Elizabeth II (who has ruled from 1952 till present) was the clear winner with 35 percent. Queen Victoria (who ruled from 1837 to
1901), with her reign the longest among the British monarchs, got 24 percent, while Elizabeth I (who ruled from 1558 to 1603) was backed by 15 percent.

Henry VIII (three percent) and Henry V (one percent) trailed the three queens in the poll, which uses the pioneering Wisdom Index method that asks respondents to make predictions about what public opinion will be.
The poll also reveals that 55 percent of voters think Britain will remain a monarchy for ever. Just 28 percent predict the country will one day become a republic.

The Prince of Wales emerges as the likeliest successor according to the public, with 58 percent believing he will take over the throne from his mother.

However, a substantial minority, 35 percent, believes a generation will be skipped and that the Duke of Cambridge will succeed.

Some 61 percent believe that if the Prince Charles becomes king, his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, will not become queen.

As the poll signalled the Queen's continuing popularity, more than 130,000 people turned out to see the monarch begin her four days of Diamond Jubilee celebrations at the Epsom Derby on Saturday, her favourite racing meeting, which she has attended every year bar one since her Coronation in 1953.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were joined by several members of the Royal family, including the Duke of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

Celebrations also began in earnest across the country, with street parties and festivals staged in hundreds of villages, towns and cities, while in London preparations were almost complete for the highlight of the celebrations, the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.


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