In 2012, Britain will unite in celebration as Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II reaches her Diamond Jubilee - the 60th year of her reign. Only one other monarch has reigned for longer: the Queen’s great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
Diamond Jubilee Official Celebrations
In the preparations for The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, there are echoes of the past. Over a long weekend, Britain will once more witness colour and ceremony. The Diamond Jubilee pageant will flow along the Thames in a flotilla of a thousand beautifully dressed boats. Queen Victoria granted city status to Bradford, Kingston-upon-Hull and Nottingham, and Queen Elizabeth II will grant city status to competing towns. And, just as they did in 1897, fires will herald the nation’s joy – then bonfires, now beacons – shining their lights around all our island nation.
The traditional street party has come to form part of Britain’s national memory – around ten million people attended street parties for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. As for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the street party may once again come into its own for the Diamond Jubilee, with friends and neighbours being encouraged to join together in a Big Jubilee Lunch.
A Sense of Occasion
Tradition and ceremony are still central to the modern monarchy, with some of Britain’s famous patriotic scenes inextricably linked with the royal family. From the most serious, such as the laying of wreaths at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, to the everyday tradition of Guard Mounting, and from the vibrant military pomp of Trooping the Colour to the joyful ‘red, white and blue’ celebrations of Royal weddings, anniversaries and indeed jubilees, the royal family are very much at the heart of the nation’s identity.
One of the most iconic London sights, Guard Mounting – the proper name for ‘Changing the Guard’ – occurs regularly at Buckingham Palace. Accompanied by a Guards band playing traditional military marches and even pop songs, a new Guard replaces the Guard on duty, protecting the Sovereign and Royal Palaces as they have since 1660. At Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Guard is normally formed by the Household Division in their iconic full dress uniform of red tunics and towering hats known as bearskins.
More than 1400 officers and troops, 200 horses and 400 musicians from 10 bands unite to parade at the annual Trooping the Colour. Dating back to the time of Charles II, the custom began with the daily parading or ‘trooping’ of regimental flags or Colours in front of soldiers – for each man had to be sure to recognise his regiment in the heat of battle. At precisely eleven o’clock, the parade begins with the salute and the Queen’s inspection of her troops. The regimental Colour to be trooped changes each year – until 1987 the Queen wore that regiment’s uniform to take the salute on horseback, seated side-saddle, but today she attends in a carriage.
The Queen’s Coinage
All British coins carry a portrait of The Queen. Whereas in centuries gone by this portrait would be the only way that most people would see an image of the monarch, today The Queen is one of the most photographed people in the world. Thus the Queen’s portrait not only must be as instantly recognisable as Her Majesty herself, but must also capture something of her dignified and dutiful character and the essence of national pride and unity that she represents. Now for 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen the Royal Mint will issue The Official Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Collection- a set of 24 historic silver Proof coins that chart the events, ceremonies and landmarks from The Queen’s reign that are important to her personally.