The Silver Jubilee: 1952 – 1977
The Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II marked the 25th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms. It was celebrated with large-scale parties and parades throughout the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth throughout 1977, culminating in June with the official “Jubilee Days”, held to coincide with the Queen’s Official Birthday. The anniversary date itself was commemorated in church services across the land on 6 February 1977, and continued throughout the month. In March, preparations started for large parties in every major city of the United Kingdom, as well as for smaller ones for countless individual streets throughout the country.
No monarch before Queen Elizabeth II had visited more of the United Kingdom in such a short span of time (the trips lasted three months). All in all, the Queen and her husband Prince Philip visited a total of 36 counties. The trip started with record crowds gathering to see the Queen and Prince Philip in Glasgow, Scotland, on 17 May. After moving to England (where a record one million spectators came to greet the couple in Lancashire) and Wales, the Queen and Prince Philip wrapped up the first of their trips with a visit to Northern Ireland. Among the places visited during the national trips were numerous schools, which were the subject of a television special hosted by presenter Valerie Singleton.
Later in the summer, the Queen and Prince Philip embarked on a Commonwealth visit that first brought them to island nations such as Fiji and Tonga, following up with longer stints in New Zealand and Australia, with a final stop in Papua New Guinea before going on to the British holdings in the West Indies. The final stop on the international tour was a trip to Canada, in which Prince Charles joined the couple to greet the crowds.
On 6 June, the Queen lit a bonfire beacon at Windsor Castle, the light of which spread across the night in a chain of other beacons throughout the whole country. On 7 June, crowds lined the route of the procession to St Paul’s Cathedral, where the royal family attended a Service of Thanksgiving alongside many world leaders, including United States President Jimmy Carter, and Prime Minister James Callaghan as well as all of the living former Prime Ministers (Harold Macmillan, The Lord Home of the Hirsel, Sir Harold Wilson and Edward Heath). The service was followed by lunch in the Guildhall, hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London Peter Vanneck. At the reception, the Queen was quoted as saying:
“When I was twenty-one 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.”
After the luncheon, the procession continued down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where an estimated one million people lined the pavements to see the family wave to onlookers. A further 500 million people around the Commonwealth watched the day’s events on live television. On 7 June, streets and villages threw elaborate parties for all their residents, and many streets strung bunting (the little flags were usually modelled in pattern after the Union Flag) from rooftop to rooftop across the street. In addition to parties, many streets decorated motor vehicles as historical events from Britain’s past, and drove them about town, organising their very own parades. In London alone there were over 4000 organised parties for individual streets and neighbourhoods. Throughout the entire day, onlookers were greeted by the Queen many times as she made several appearances for pictures from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
On 9 June, the Queen made a Royal Progress trip via boat down the River Thames from Greenwich to Lambeth, in a re-enactment of the famous progresses taken by Queen Elizabeth I. On the trip, the Queen officially opened the Silver Jubilee Walkway and the South Bank Jubilee Gardens, two of numerous places named after the festivities. In the evening, she presided over a fireworks display and was taken subsequently by a procession of lighted carriages to Buckingham Palace, where she greeted onlookers yet again from her balcony.
Various places were named after the Jubilee. The under-construction Fleet line of the London underground was renamed the Jubilee line, and given a silver line colour, though it did not open until 1979. Other places named after the Jubilee were the Silver Jubilee Walkway and the Jubilee Gardens in South Bank, London. The Silver Jubilee Bridge – connecting Runcorn and Widnes across the Mersey – was also renamed in honour of this jubilee. Apart from names, the Jubilee also saw the borough of Derby granted the status of a city. Australian artist, Paul Fitzgerald, was commissioned to complete the only official portrait of the Queen during the Silver Jubilee year. Similar parties and parades were planned for the Golden Jubilee in 2002. the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2012, a 100 m (330 ft) by 70 m (230 ft) print of a photograph of the British Royal Family taken during her Silver Jubilee celebrations at Buckingham Palace was erected in front of the Sea Containers House under renovation.Tower Bridge was repainted in a commemorative colour scheme of red, white, and blue for the Silver Jubilee and has retained the design ever since.
The Ruby Jubilee: 1952 – 1992
Her Majesty did not mark the Ruby Anniversary of her succession due to a series of complicated factors that spread turmoil throughout her life during what should have been a celebratory year. 1992 was a year that the Queen does not look back on fondly and has termed the year, her “Annus Horribilis”. There were no formal events held to mark the Ruby Jubilee of Her Majesty. Instead, The Queen outlined the year in a speech on the 4oth anniversary of her succession, which is known as the “Annus Horribilis Speech”. “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.” – Her Majesty The Queen. on 24 November 1992 The Queen gave a speech at Guildhall to mark the 40th anniversary of her Accession. In it The Queen referred to recent events as part of an ‘annus horribilis’. My Lord Mayor, Could I say, first, how delighted I am that the Lady Mayoress is here today. This great hall has provided me with some of the most memorable events of my life. The hospitality of the City of London is famous around the world, but nowhere is it more appreciated than among the members of my family. I am deeply grateful that you, my Lord Mayor, and the Corporation, have seen fit to mark the fortieth anniversary of my Accession with this splendid lunch, and by giving me a picture which I will greatly cherish. Thank you also for inviting representatives of so many organisations with which I and my family have special connections, in some cases stretching back over several generations. To use an expression more common north of the Border, this is a real ‘gathering of the clans’.
1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’. I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so. Indeed, I suspect that there are very few people or institutions unaffected by these last months of worldwide turmoil and uncertainty. This generosity and whole-hearted kindness of the Corporation of the City to Prince Philip and me would be welcome at any time, but at this particular moment, in the aftermath of Friday’s tragic fire at Windsor, it is especially so. And, after this last weekend, we appreciate all the more what has been set before us today. Years of experience, however, have made us a bit more canny than the lady, less well versed than us in the splendours of City hospitality, who, when she was offered a balloon glass for her brandy, asked for ‘only half a glass, please’. It is possible to have too much of a good thing. A well-meaning Bishop was obviously doing his best when he told Queen Victoria, “Ma’am, we cannot pray too often, nor too fervently, for the Royal Family”. The Queen’s reply was: “Too fervently, no; too often, yes”. I, like Queen Victoria, have always been a believer in that old maxim “moderation in all things”. I sometimes wonder how future generations will judge the events of this tumultuous year. I dare say that history will take a slightly more moderate view than that of some contemporary commentators. Distance is well-known to lend enchantment, even to the less attractive views. After all, it has the inestimable advantage of hindsight. But it can also lend an extra dimension to judgement, giving it a leavening of moderation and compassion – even of wisdom – that is sometimes lacking in the reactions of those whose task it is in life to offer instant opinions on all things great and small. No section of the community has all the virtues, neither does any have all the vices. I am quite sure that most people try to do their jobs as best they can, even if the result is not always entirely successful. He who has never failed to reach perfection has a right to be the harshest critic. There can be no doubt, of course, that criticism is good for people and institutions that are part of public life. No institution – City, Monarchy, whatever – should expect to be free from the scrutiny of those who give it their loyalty and support, not to mention those who don’t. But we are all part of the same fabric of our national society and that scrutiny, by one part of another, can be just as effective if it is made with a touch of gentleness, good humour and understanding. This sort of questioning can also act, and it should do so, as an effective engine for change. The City is a good example of the way the process of change can be incorporated into the stability and continuity of a great institution. I particularly admire, my Lord Mayor, the way in which the City has adapted so nimbly to what the Prayer Book calls “The changes and chances of this mortal life”. You have set an example of how it is possible to remain effective and dynamic without losing those indefinable qualities, style and character. We only have to look around this great hall to see the truth of that. Forty years is quite a long time. I am glad to have had the chance to witness, and to take part in, many dramatic changes in life in this country. But I am glad to say that the magnificent standard of hospitality given on so many occasions to the Sovereign by the Lord Mayor of London has not changed at all. It is an outward symbol of one other unchanging factor which I value above all – the loyalty given to me and to my family by so many people in this country, and the Commonwealth, throughout my reign. You, my Lord Mayor, and all those whose prayers – fervent, I hope, but not too frequent – have sustained me through all these years, are friends indeed. Prince Philip and I give you all, wherever you may be, our most humble thanks. And now I ask you to rise and drink the health of the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London. The Golden Jubilee: 1952 – 2012 The Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II was the international celebration held in 2002 marking the 50th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the thrones of seven countries, upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952, and was intended by the Queen to be both a commemoration of her 50 years as monarch and an opportunity for her to officially and personally thank her people for their loyalty. Despite the deaths of her sister, Princess Margaret, and mother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, in February and March 2002 respectively, and predictions in the media that the anniversary would be a non-event, the jubilee was marked with large-scale and popular events throughout London in June of the same year, booked by events throughout the Commonwealth realms. Elizabeth attended all of the official celebrations as scheduled, along with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh; over twelve months, the royal couple journeyed more than 40,000 miles (64,000km) to the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, then around the United Kingdom, and wrapped up the jubilee year in Canada. Numerous landmarks, parks, buildings, and the like, were also named in honour of the golden jubilee and commemorative medals, stamps, and other symbols were issued. Celebrations for Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee took place throughout the United Kingdom between May and July 2002. In the lead-up to those festive weeks, the British media—The Guardian, in particular—predicted that the jubilee would be a failure, arguing that Britain was no longer interested in the monarchy; a pervading sense of apathy amongst the populace seemed to confirm this. However, the predictions were proven wrong, especially during the official jubilee weekend, when people numbering in the hundreds of thousands turned out to participate in the fêtes. These festivities culminated in the 4 June event on The Mall in London, when over one million attended the parade and flypast. The Daily Mail stated in its editorial: “How the sour anti-Royalists in The Guardian newspaper and elsewhere have been confounded. They were convinced that the occasion would be a flop, that the House of Windsor was no longer capable of inspiring the loyalties it once did and that anyway the concept of royalty was passe in cool Britannia.” It was on 3 March that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh returned to London from Australia. Eight days later, on Commonwealth Day, the Commonwealth Secretariat unveiled at Buckingham Palace a portrait of Elizabeth, painted by Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy that had been commissioned to mark the Queen’s 50 years as Head of the Commonwealth; the work now hangs at Marlborough House, with a study kept as part of the Queen’s collection at St James’s Palace. At the end of the month, however, the Queen was dealt another blow when her mother died on 30 March; the Commonwealth realms observed a period of mourning, and on 9 April, the day of her funeral, more than one million people filled the area outside Westminster Abbey and along the 23-mile (37 km) route from central London to the Queen Mother’s final resting place beside her husband and younger daughter in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Plans for the Golden Jubilee in the United Kingdom went ahead as planned, and, after a dinner hosted by Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street for her and all her living former British Prime Ministers (Sir John Major, The Baroness Thatcher, Sir Edward Heath, and The Lord Callaghan of Cardiff), the Queen officially launched the celebrations in the UK with a speech to both houses of the British parliament at Westminster Hall on 30 April, marking the fifth time in five decades that Elizabeth II addressed her British parliament on her own account. The Queen spoke of 50 unforgettable years and the changes to British life and society in that time, and elaborated that the monarchy must change also; Elizabeth said she had “witnessed the transformation of the international landscape through which [the United Kingdom] must chart its course” and declared her “resolve to continue, with the support of [the Royal Family], to serve the people… to the best of [her] ability through the changing times ahead.” For the Queen’s goodwill visits, which commenced on 1 May, two to three days were spent in each corner of England; the Queen and the Duke first stopped in Cornwall, Devon, and Somerset before travelling to Tyne and Wear, then finally to Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. On 13 May, the couple were received in Northern Ireland, and visited such areas as County Fermanagh, Cookstown, and Omagh. Then, throughout much of mid-May, the royal couple were in London devoting much time to the promotion of the arts, attending the Chelsea Flower Show, dedicating the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, and attending a reception at the Royal Academy of Arts. The jubilee trips recommenced on 23 May with a six-day trip to Scotland; the royals first stopped in Glasgow, and then travelled on to Edinburgh, Dundee, Stornoway and Aberdeen, and, following the jubilee weekend in London, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on 7 June toured West Sussex, spent three days in Wales, touring Anglesey, Llanelli, and Cardiff. The next month, the royal couple made two-day trips to the West Midlands, Yorkshire (where the Queen visited the set of the soap opera Emmerdale), and the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk, as well as undertaking a three-day goodwill trip to Liverpool and Manchester, where the Queen opened the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The Queen closed out July by touring the East Midlands, and ended her domestic tour by visiting Lancashire. Amongst several other events independently organised to celebrate the Jubilee in June 2002 were the British Army’s staging at Portsmouth of a special parade of 6,000 personnel from all three branches of the British Armed Forces, and the Queen’s bodyguards mounted a conjoined parade, wherein 300 members of the Gentlemen at Arms, Yeoman of the Guard, and Yeoman Warders all marched together for the first time in the centuries since their respective foundations. Elizabeth also hosted a banquet for all of Europe’s reigning kings and queens, one for all her incumbent Governors-General, and garden parties at both Buckingham Palace and Holyrood Palace for people born on Accession Day 1952. Around the country, street parties were organised, for which some 40,000 toolkits were distributed. Golden Jubilee Weekend The Golden Jubilee Weekend took place between 1 and 4 June 2002 in London, for which the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh left Scotland on 29 May to make final preparations. On the first evening, the Saturday, the Prom at the Palace took place in the gardens of Buckingham Palace and highlighted classical music; out of the two million who applied for tickets, 12,500 people were selected to attend, making the event the largest ever held on the royal property. The crowds were entertained by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, and guest vocalists included Kiri Te Kanawa, Thomas Allen, Angela Gheorghiu, and Roberto Alagna. The following day, the Queen and her husband attended a church service at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, while their family were present at thanksgiving services elsewhere in the United Kingdom The Prince of Wales and his sons, Princes;William and Harry, in Swansea; The Earl and Countess of Wessex in Salisbury; and The Princess Royal in Ayr.
After time on 3 June touring Eton and Slough, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh returned to London and the former at 1:00 pm launched the nationwide BBC Music Live Festival, in which more than 200 towns and cities across the United Kingdom publicly played the Beatles song “All You Need Is Love”. During the day, street parties were held around the country, and that evening, the Queen, the Duke, and other members of the immediate Royal Family, made themselves present at another concert on the grounds of Buckingham Palace; this fête, called Party at the Palace, showcased achievements in pop music over the previous 50 years, with headlining acts including Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Cliff Richard, and Tony Bennett. Queen guitarist Brian May commenced the event by playing his arrangement of “God Save the Queen” from the roof of the palace, and Paul McCartney concluded the night with such numbers as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Hey Jude”, which were each performed before and after the Queen lit the National Beacon at the Victoria Memorial, the last in a string of 2,006 beacons to be lit in a chain throughout the world, echoing Queen Victoria’s own Golden Jubilee in 1887. 12,000 guests were allowed into the concert, while an additional one million people thronged The Mall to watch and listen to the festivities on giant television screens and join in with the palace audience’s singing from outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, and a further 200 million watched the televised event around the world.
On 4 June, the entire royal family attended the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, to which the Queen rode in the Gold State Coach, followed by lunch at the Guildhall. There the Queen addressed the crowd and expressed pride at the Commonwealth’s achievements, both during her reign as queen and throughout time; Elizabeth was quoted as saying: “Gratitude, respect and pride, these words sum up how I feel about the people of this country and the Commonwealth—and what this Golden Jubilee means to me.” The jubilee procession then started along The Mall in the early afternoon; in addition to entertainers performing for the Queen, numerous floats were decorated to illustrate British life through the years of Elizabeth’s reign and driven through The Mall. The parade concluded with 5,000 adults and children from the 54 member-states of the Commonwealth of Nations marching in their various national costumes before the Queen and presenting to her a “rainbow of wishes”, consisting of handwritten notes from school children across the Commonwealth. In front of more than one million people, the Royal Family assembled on the balcony of the Centre Room of Buckingham Palace and watched a flypast consisting of every type of Royal Air Force aircraft in service (27 in all), Concorde, and the Red Arrows. There was only one publicly noted negative event in relation to the jubilee when approximately 40 activists, mostly drawn from the anarchist Movement Against the Monarchy, were arrested during a protest in the run-up to the Jubilee Weekend.