Queen Elizabeth II 70-year reign has spanned 93% of the current New Jersey State Constitution, fourteen Governors, not including John O. Bennett III, and twelve United States Senators. She died today at age 96.
She became Queen fifteen years before Ralph Caputo was first elected to the State Assembly and 21 years before Richard Codey first went to the legislature. The second longest-reigning monarch, the Sultan of Brunei, acceded to the throne one month before Caputo was elected; Queen Margrethe II of Denmark began her reign two years before Codey was sworn in to his Assembly seat.
At the time Elizabeth II became Queen on February 6, 1952 , New Jersey had a Republican governor, Alfred E. Driscoll, and two Republican United States Senators, H. Alexander Smith and Robert C. Hendrickson. The GOP had majorities in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature.
The state’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives had nine Republicans and three Democrats. One of the New Jersey congressmen at the time was Robert W. Kean (R-Livingston), the grandfather of former Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr.
During Elizabeth II’s reign, New Jersey’s population has nearly doubled from 4,835,329 to 9,670,658.
The last royal visit to New Jersey was on June 10, 1939 when King George VI came to Red Bank. News accounts suggested that 200,000 people lined the streets between for a motorcade between Red Bank and Sandy Hook, where the King and Queen boarded a ship to take them to Manhattan. Gov. A. Harry Moore greeted them.
Rep. James Howard (D-Spring Lake Heights) and Red Bank Mayor (and future New Jersey Supreme Court Justice) Daniel O’Hern invited the British monarch to recreate her father’s visit during her 1976 Bicentennial visit to New Jersey, but she declined. There is no record of her having visited New Jersey.
In 2010, Gov. Chris Christie met Queen Elizabeth III when she visited Ground Zero at the site of the World Trade Center.
Prince Harry visited New Jersey in 2013, joining Christie on a tour of Superstorm Sandy damage in Seaside Heights.
Robert Wood Johnson IV, a former Bedminster resident, was the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James during Donald Trump’s presidency.
The last Royal Governor of New Jersey was William Franklin, who took office in 1763 at age 33. He received the post largely because he was the son of a prominent activist, Benjamin Franklin.
To the disappointment of his father, Franklin remained a loyalist to King George III. He remained as governor until he was placed under house arrest by the colonial militia in early 1776. Following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin was imprisoned for about two years.
Shortly after the British surrendered at Yorktown, Franklin moved to London where he continued to oppose American independence. He was perhaps the state’s most unpopular governor until 2017.