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What is a Diamond Jubilee?
Summer started with a huge celebration in the form of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years of her reign. Over the course of the first weekend in June, including two special bank holidays, there were celebrations across the country to celebrate this illustrious event.
The Queen isn’t the first monarch to celebrate a Jubilee. George III celebrated his Golden Jubilee on 25th October 1809, with a service at Windsor, followed by a fete and huge firework display at Frogmore. In 1887 Queen victoria also celebrated her Golden Jubilee, which included 30 Kings and Princes from abroad coming to England to process through London. Mark Twain recorded this as “stretching to the limit of sight in both directions.”
She enjoyed her Diamond Jubilee a little later, in 1897, where she led a horse-drawn procession through London. She wrote about it in her diary afterwards, noting “No one ever, I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those 6 miles of streets... The cheering was quite deafening and every face seemed to be filled with real joy. I was much moved and gratified.' George V enjoyed celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 1935 with a month of receptions, street parties and a thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s.
So this year’s Diamond Jubilee is particularly important as the only other British monarch to have celebrated one was Queen Victoria in 1897!
What happened in London and across the UK to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee?
From June 2nd-June 5th, there were lots of celebrations throughout the United Kingdom, with some particularly special events in the capital, London.
On Saturday 2nd, the Queen, an avid racing fan, attended Epsom Derby. The whole country came together for celebrations on Sunday 3rd, which saw the Big Jubilee Lunch. In 2011, over 2 million people took part in The Big Lunch, and so this Jubilee year is a great excuse for a street party or joint lunch party with your friends and neighbours. Whether you’re planning an elaborate street party, with bunting and cream cakes, or a huge picnic, where everyone contributes a dish, this is a really good way to get to know the people who live in your neighbourhood, and to celebrate and enjoy some time together. Have a look below at our suggestions for running a street party - it’s a lot of fun!
The big event of the day, as well as of the entire Jubilee celebrations, was the 1000-ship flotilla which sailed down the Thames, lead by The Queen, in the Royal Barge. The boats selected as apart of the flotilla were chosen from over 3000 entries. They were a glorious reflection of the colourful maritime history of the UK. It was an extraordinary spectacle, and was a chance to see many different vessels, from steam boats to tall ships, cruisers to Dunkirk little ships lead by the Queen in the Royal Barge, decorated in red and gold with the Queen’s cipher and crown. The flotilla travelled along The Thames, starting in Putney and finished at Tower Bridge. There was even a festival in Battersea Park, a great place to watch the Jubilee Flotilla as it passed on the northern side of the park.
Monday 4th June saw a concert at Buckingham Palace, which members of the public were invited to join by ballot for tickets, and that evening, beacons were be lit across the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and even into the Commonwealth.
The weekend ended with a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s cathedral, and Carriage Procession, lead by the Queen, through London.