Even over here across the Pond, it’s likely that most people are aware that this year marks the 70th year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Since her Accession to the throne on February 6, 1952 and her Coronation on February 6, 1953, the Queen has become Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. As you can imagine, the Platinum Jubilee is a pretty big deal in the United Kingdom.
While the concept of the jubilee began in biblical times, today the term is most closely associated with the royal family. Royal jubilees are an occasion to celebrate the life and reign of a monarch and are significant events celebrated around the world. Royal jubilees had their beginning during the reign of King George III. The beginning of the 50th year of his reign, on October 25, 1809, was marked both in Britain and the Colonies. Queen Victoria, previously the longest-reigning British monarch until the current Queen surpassed her in 2015, celebrated her Golden Jubilee in June 1887 and her Diamond Jubilee in June 1897. Both occasions included dignitaries from around the world as well as much fanfare with miles of people lined up to cheer the Queen.
Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilees
Due to her extended reign on the throne, Queen Elizabeth is about to celebrate her fourth Jubilee. Even before her sudden accession to the throne and subsequent coronation at the age of 25, on her 21st birthday Princess Elizabeth famously said in a speech:
“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.”
The future queen certainly at the time had no idea that she would serve 70 years on the throne!
Silver Jubilee: 1977
The Queen’s Silver Jubilee was marked with celebrations throughout the UK and Commonwealth. During that summer, the Queen embarked on a large-scale tour, having decided that she wished to mark her 25th year by meeting as many of her people as possible. No other Sovereign had visited so much of Britain in the course of just three months – the six jubilee tours in the UK and Northern Ireland covered 36 counties. Over a million people turned out on one day while she visited Lancashire. Overseas visits were also made, and during that year it was estimated that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh traveled 56,000 miles.
During a lunch at Guildhall, the Queen made a speech with a throwback reference to that famous quote. “My Lord Mayor, when I was 21 I pledged my life to the service of our people, and I asked for God’s help to make good that vow. Although that vow was made in my salad days, when I was green in judgement, I do not regret nor retract one word of it.”
Golden Jubilee: 2002
The celebration of 50 years of service took place in June 2002 with six key themes: Celebration, Community, Service, Past, and Future, Giving Thanks, and Commonwealth. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh again undertook extensive tours of the Commonwealth and the UK as well as Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. The celebrations included the usual fanfare, processions, central weekend special events, concerts, fireworks, and immense crowds cheering for the Queen.
Diamond Jubilee: 2012
The queen’s 60th year of reign was marked with a spectacular central weekend and a series of regional tours throughout the UK and Commonwealth. The Queen and Duke traveled across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Events included “Big Jubilee Lunches,” which were held across the UK where people were encouraged to share lunch with neighbors and friends as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant featured up to 1,000 boats assembled on the Thames from across the UK and around the world. The Queen and Duke traveled in the Royal Barge which formed the centerpiece of the flotilla. Harney & Sons made a tribute tea for the Diamond Jubilee as well. It’s since been discontinued, but if you still have the tin, snap a pic and post it in the comments!
Platinum Jubilee: 2022
While events have been taking place throughout the year in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne, the culmination takes place during the Central Weekend, a jubilee tradition. From Thursday, June 2 to Sunday, June 5, there will be public events, community activities, and national moments of reflection on the Queen’s 70 years of service. Highlights include:
- Trooping the Colour. The Queen’s Birthday Parade will be held on Thursday, June 2. The colour will be trooped by the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, and more than 1200 officers and soldiers from the Household Division will put on a display of military pageantry on Horse Guards Parade, together with hundreds of Army musicians and around 240 horses. This annual event has now marked the official birthday of the British Sovereign for over 260 years. Once the parade has ended and the Royal Procession has returned to Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family’s balcony appearance will happen as in previous years, where they will be treated to an impressive flypast by the Royal Air Force.
- Platinum Jubilee Beacons. This is a long-standing tradition of celebrating royal jubilees, weddings, and coronations. The Principal Beacon will be lit on June 2 in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace which sets off the lighting of thousands of beacons throughout the country.
- Service of Thanksgiving. A Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen’s reign will be held at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, June 3. Great Paul, the largest church bell in the country, will be rung for the Service. Since its restoration in 2021, it has been rung on eight occasions, but this is the first royal occasion it will be rung.
- The Derby at Epsom Downs. Her Majesty and members of the royal family are scheduled to attend the Derby at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 4.
- Platinum Party at the Palace. This June 4 gathering, broadcast by BBC, will include famous faces from the entertainment world. 22,000 people will attend the event.
- The Big Jubilee Lunch. Over 60,000 people have registered to host Big Jubilee Lunches on the Platinum weekend, with events ranging from world record attempts for the longest street party to back garden BBQs and everything in between. Over 10 million people across the UK are expected to be joining the celebrations in a nationwide act of community friendship. There are also over 600 international Big Jubilee Lunches being planned around the world.
- The Platinum Jubilee Pageant. On Sunday, June 5, the Gold State Carriage, led by the Sovereign’s Escort, will lead the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. The Pageant serves as an opportunity to gather and pay tribute to Her Majesty. It will culminate with the singing of the National Anthem, “God Save the Queen,” and a gospel choir. The Pageant will bring to life iconic moments from the Queen’s reign. Over 10,000 participants are involved as people from all over the UK and across the Commonwealth are giving their time and creativity to build this event and celebrate this momentous occasion. National treasures and iconic figures from music, film, sport, and the arts will take part in the Pageant, and while the Queen won’t personally travel in the regal Gold State Carriage during this Jubilee, a “fabulous surprise” is promised.
In addition to all the “official” events of the central weekend, there are many other events and tributes that have been and will continue to take place. One of our favorites is the Superbloom at the Tower of London. The moat at the Tower of London has been sown with over 20 million seeds, which will erupt into bloom at the beginning of June in time for all the Platinum Jubilee hoopla. We can only imagine how breathtaking that will be, and as supporters of Historic Royal Palaces, the not-for-profit that cares for the Tower, we’re extra chuffed (as the British would say)! You can read all about Historic Royal Palaces and the important places they support on our blog, and shop for teas like Tower of London, Victorian London Fog, and more on our HRP Collection page.
One final fun note: a Platinum Jubilee Pudding contest was held where contestants could submit their recipe for the Platinum Jubilee’s official dessert. The winner of the contest is a Lemon Swiss Roll and Amaretti Trifle inspired by the Queen’s wedding menu. The recipe by copywriter and amateur baker Jemma Melvin beat out more than 5,000 entrants. You can make your own at home…and here’s an idea, maybe serve it with a freshly brewed pot of our Platinum Jubilee tea! This black tea with bergamot and lavender was blended in honor of the Queen’s 70th year as an enduring and beloved monarch. God save the Queen! Cheers!