A Crowded Mall

Every Queen's Jubilee: Down the Decades

Every Queen's Jubilee: Down the Decades

24 May 2022

This year, on the 6th of February, Queen Elizabeth II marked the 70th anniversary of her ascension to the throne: her platinum jubilee. This makes her one of the longest reigning monarchs in all of human history.

The whole of 2022 will accordingly be filled with celebrations, special events, and historic occasions. Below, we’ll take a look at the Queen’s previous jubilees, as well as what’s to come in 2022 (and what’s happened so far!).

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee, 1977

The 6th of February 1977 marked 25 years of the Queen’s reign. It was the first major milestone she passed as the monarch of Great Britain, and was celebrated through the entire year with parties, parades and state visits. The Queen and the Royal Family travelled the length and breadth of the world over the course of 1977. Countries visited by the Royals in this period included:

American Samoa, Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, India, Oman, Canada, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Mustique, Barbados, and Germany.

In addition, the Queen visited more of the UK this year than any head of state before her. This included (deep breath):

Glasgow, Cumbernauld, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Windsor, Greenwich, Lancaster, Preston, Leigh, Stretford, Manchester, St Helens, Liverpool, Bootle, Harlech Castle, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Llandudno, Conwy, Bangor, Holyhead, Milford Haven, Haverfordwest, Carmarthen, Llanelli, Swansea, Neath, Barry, Cardiff, Risca, Spithead, Portsmouth, Wimbledon, Norwich, Ipswich, Felixstowe, Grimsby, Doncaster, Sheffield, Barnsley, Leeds, Wakefield, Harrogate, Beverly, York, Hull, Middlesborough, Hartlepool, Eston, Durham, Newcastle, Sunderland, Wolverhampton, Dudley, West Bromwich, Walsall, Birmingham, Hampton in Arden, Solihull, Coventry, Leicester, Chesterfield, Mansfield, Derby, Nottingham, Southampton, Torbay, Exeter, Plymouth, Falmouth, Truro, Bodmin, St Austell, Bristol, Northavon, Bath, Keynsham, Weston Super Mare, Belfast, and Derry.

Aren’t you exhausted just reading that list? At each location there was an event, whether it be a military parade, street party, church service, the unveiling of a statue or portrait, or the opening of a building. The new ‘Fleet Line’ of the London Underground was renamed the ‘Jubilee Line’ and given a silver colour on the tube map in honour of the occasion. In addition, a fleet of Silver Jubilee buses was launched around London, the House of Commons and House of Lords held addresses, and the HMS Invincible was launched.

The main celebration was held on the 6th of June, when the Queen lit a beacon from Windsor Castle, following which a succession of beacons were lit that extended across the country. The next day, a ceremony was held at St Paul’s Cathedral, attended by many world leaders. After, a procession was undertaken to Buckingham Palace, which was attended by around a million onlookers. At the same time, around the country millions of people held street parties to celebrate the day.

A Crowded Mall

The Queen’s Golden Jubilee, 2002

In 2002, the Queen reached 50 years on the throne, and once again the nation celebrated in style. The Jubilee Tour took the Royals around Canada, Jamaica, and New Zealand, as well as a great many of locations around the UK. In total they travelled over 40,000 miles.

Celebrations were held around the world, and in Britain, hundreds of events took place up and down the nation. Streets, parks, and buildings were renamed for the occasion, and a wealth of commemorative goods were fashioned to mark the event. Up and down the country, hundreds of thousands of people held mini street parties, and a crowd of a million strong gathered at The Mall in London, to witness a royal parade and an RAF flypast on the 4th of June.

A new portrait of the Queen was unveiled for Buckingham Palace, and later in the year the Queen dined with the current Prime Minister, as well as all living ex-Prime Ministers before making a speech to Parliament to address the occasion.

Between dates of the 1st and 4th of June, a classical music event was held in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, and several days later a pop and rock music show was held, with artists including Paul McCartney, Brian May, Eric Clapton and Cliff Richard. To bring the evening to a grand finale, a series of beacons that had been lit around the world culminated in a final beacon being lit in the palace. Truly epic stuff.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, 2012

The level of planning that has gone into each major Jubilee truly is incredible. In 2012, once again huge plans spanning the whole world came into motion to celebrate sixty years of the Queen’s reign as Britain’s monarch. The only other British king or queen to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee was Queen Victoria in 1897 – before that, nobody would have dreamt of lasting so long!

Once again, the Queen and Prince Phillip toured the UK, stopping at dozens of locations. The extended Royals travelled the Commonwealth. A Commonwealth Trust was set up, with leaders around the world donating millions of pounds which would go towards charitable organisations, including charities focussed on curing disease and building schools.

2012 was a little different than previous Jubilees; the Queen made a statement to her staff before the planning of the year’s events, specifying that people shouldn’t be ‘forced to celebrate’, and that spending should be kept to a minimum wherever possible.

Shows were held at Buckingham Palace to celebrate, including a horse show, and on the 18th of May, the Queen held a dinner at the Palace with more than 20 heads of state from around the world. On the 4th of June, once again a series of beacons were lit that spanned the globe.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 2022

The official date of the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s reign was the 6th of February. However, once again, celebrations and events will span the year. The first cause of excitement among the people of Britain was the news that there will be one extra bank holiday in the year, on Friday the 3rd of June. Ahead of the main events that are still to come, event organisers have promised an unforgettable show, touted as ‘once in a lifetime’. It’s not surprising they’re going to such lengths – no British monarch has ever had a Platinum Jubilee before.

The Queen’s official statement on the occasion so far is as follows:

As I look ahead with a sense of hope and optimism to the year of my Platinum Jubilee, I am reminded of how much we can be thankful for. These last seven decades have seen extraordinary progress socially, technologically and culturally that have benefitted us all; and I am confident that the future will offer similar opportunities to us and especially to the younger generations in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth.

Queen Elizabeth II, 2022

World leaders from countries on every continent have sent messages of congratulations, and Jubilee beacons are planned to be lit in the capital city of every Commonwealth country. It’s set to be a show (and a year) to remember, with commemorative memorabilia, music events, military parades, and official visits up and down the length of the country and around the world. Expect nothing less than a show for the ages – it’s going to be one to remember!

Mall image by Garry Knight, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons