Queen Elizabeth II and her Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Crowning glory after seven decades of service
Reigning for longer than most people’s lifetimes, Queen Elizabeth has witnessed it all. She was there with Winston Churchill, The Beatles, the moon landing, the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, Thatcher- Gorbachev-Reagan, the handover of Hong Kong, the Millennium and plenty more historical moments. Despite significant social changes, the Queen and much of the Royal Family still feature in everyday life in the United Kingdom and remain committed to head the nation. They have managed to maintain their profiles both at home and abroad.
After topping the 63-year reign of Queen Victoria a century earlier from 1837 to 1901, Queen Elizabeth is one of the world’s longest-serving monarchs and the first British ruler to celebrate a platinum jubilee. These 70 years of service to the UK and Commonwealth will be celebrated with a series of tributes throughout this year.
But as has been the custom, this February 6 she spent her Accession Day privately at the Sandringham estate with family, in memory of her father, while gun salutes were fired in London and Edinburgh to herald the beginning of the Platinum Jubilee.
The main celebrations will be held over an extended four-day UK bank holiday weekend from June.2-5, when the weather should be more suitable for outdoor events and when the Queen officially celebrates her birthday, each second Saturday in June. Her actual birthday, April 21, she spends privately.
Overall, rain or shine, the year will see street parties, parades, pageants, concerts, theatrical events, documentaries and much more. Also there will be opportunities for the public to visit some of the Royal Family’s residences.
While it is cheerful news amid much of concern worldwide, it is unclear which events the 95-year-old monarch will attend. She had an overnight hospital stay last October and has been advised by her medical team to take regular rests. The majority of the jubilee duties will be handed over to the family, especially the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, and second-in-line Prince William and his wife Kate. Now, of course, the Queen is widowed after the death of Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years, last April.
One of the first jubilee events is a cooking contest to create a celebratory pudding exclusively for the Queen in order to symbolise this distinct time. Finalists will be judged by an expert panel including English food writer, chef, baker and television presenter Dame Mary Berry and Masterchef’ judge Monica Galetti. The winning recipe will then be published, and hopefully enjoyed at jubilee events throughout the land.
The 95-year-old Queen said in a recent written message to the nation: “I would like to express my thanks to you all for your support. I remain eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection that you continue to give me.”
During her impressive reign, she has seen 14 British prime ministers. The incumbent, Boris Johnson, posted online: “I pay tribute to her many years of service and look forward to coming together as a country to celebrate her historic reign this summer.”
This year’s Trooping of the Colour, an annual military parade in honour of her official birthday, will be held on June 2. With this come 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians in unison. It will be followed by the lighting of Platinum Jubilee Beacons across 1500 locations in the UK and some UK overseas territories. A thanksgiving service will proceed at St. Paul’s Cathedral on June 3.
On Saturday June 4 there will be the official Platinum Party celebration at Buckingham Palace, with members of the public invited to enter a ballot to attend a gala concert. Artists are yet to be announced but expect some of the biggest names in show-business.
Among other initiatives is a tree-planting campaign called “The Queen’s Green Canopy”. More than 100,000 trees have been ordered and will be planted worldwide. Various children’s programmes will see a selected few from primary and secondary schools invited to express their hopes and dreams for the planet to televised audiences.
Street parties will bring together local UK communities, and Commonwealth and embassy events will cater for ex-pats worldwide. The British Embassy in Budapest is yet to announce an official programme for this all-important time.
As for what happens with British life after this twilight time of the Elizabethan era, it’s anyone’s’ guess. Queen Elizabeth will be remembered with high honours for an admirable and unrepeatable chapter in most our living memories, but it will be “all change” with much to live up to for whoever takes over.
It is still not known if Prince Charles, 74, will succeed his mother. Rumours occasionally declare that his elder son Prince William, soon to be 40, may become king instead. But whatever the eventual outcome, certainly this summer will remain a time to celebrate this defining era, and here in the Hungarian capital too.
One can walk in the footsteps of British royalty as Prince Charles and Princess Diana came to Budapest in 1990 on official business and had a guided tour. But that is another story altogether.