British royalty, Queen Elizabeth included, have many distinguished feats, but living long is not one of them. Only two have made it past 100: Lady Alice, Duchess of Gloucester and the Queen Mother, who made it to 102 and 101, respectively. Claims of longevity have been very popular in Britian and otherwise, but most of those claims are poorly backed by evidence. Royals are more likely to have extensively verified lifespans that make those claims impossible.
If Queen Elizabeth makes it to 103, she’ll be the longest-living British royal of all time. So what are the odds that she will?
The average lifespan of a human today varies by country, but in the UK it is currently 79 years for men and 83 years for women. Since Queen Elizabeth turned 89 on her last birthday, she’s already beaten that record. Currently, there are almost 14,000 centenarians in the UK (people who have reached 100). There are 65 million people in the UK; both numbers indicate the chance of reaching 100 is one in 4,000.
It helps that she’s a woman; women reach 100 more often than men. It also works in her favor that her mother lived to 101, since there is some evidence longevity is partially genetic. Health care and access to it plays another role in life expectancy, and even if the UK did not have the NHS system the wealth associated with Queen Elizabeth’s royalty would provide any needed health care. She’s also past the age where heart problems typically manifest themselves, so another factor relevant to reaching 100 – lack of coronary artery disease – also works in her favor. Her mental health is also good, and since dementia decreases in instance sharply after 84 and people who have lived to 110 and more have had full cognitive ability for their lives, there’s a good chance that she’ll stay that way.
Of course, there’s still many things left to dumb luck. Surgery and its aftermath are far more dehibilitating in the elderly than in the regular population, making even routine operations dangerous and cancer risk goes up with age. Yes, Queen Elizabeth’s mother went through hip replacement twice in her nineties without major complication, but that is due to chance as much as anything else.
Still, there are many things that work in Queen Elizabeth’s favor overall. So there’s a good chance she could become not only the longest-reigning royal in the UK, but also the longest-lived one. There’s just one thing to wonder: since all citizens in the UK who reach 100 get a celebratory message from the Queen, is she still eligible to send one to herself?
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