No other monarch in British history has reached 70 years of service.
The Queen, then 25, ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI.
She became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch in 2015, beating the time her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria reigned on the throne for 63 years and seven months.
Buckingham Palace is pulling out all the stops in recognition of this landmark event. Here’s what you need to know.
To celebrate the unprecedented anniversary, a number of events have taken place across the UK this year. It all culminates in one four-day national holiday weekend from Thursday 2nd June to Sunday 5th June known as Platinum Jubilee Weekend. In the UK, royal celebrations usually take place in the summer to allow for better weather.
The weekend will feature a variety of public events and community activities, as well as “national moments of reflection” on the Queen’s seven decades as sovereign, according to the palace.
The upcoming celebrations will mark the Queen’s first anniversary without her husband Prince Philip, who died in 2021.
Several anniversaries have punctuated the Queen’s reign since her accession to the throne in 1952: the Silver Jubilee, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 1977; the Golden Jubilee celebrations for 50 years in 2002; and the Diamond Jubilee commemorations a decade ago for their 60th anniversary.
The monarch chose to celebrate other anniversaries such as her Ruby Jubilee (40 years in 1992) and Sapphire Jubilee (65 years in 2017) with less fanfare and no public events.
The Queen’s private estates – including Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle – are also involved in jubilee-themed events.
What events are planned?
Thursday June 2nd
Celebrations begin at 10am BST (5am ET) with the Queen’s Birthday Parade known as Trooping the Color. The annual ceremony returns to central London after a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 1,200 officers of the Queen’s personal troops, the Household Division, will be joined by several hundred army musicians and 240 horses in an impressive display of military showpieces. The ‘colour’ – or regimental flag – is carried by the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards. The procession begins at Buckingham Palace and moves down the Mall to Horse Guard’s Parade, accompanied by members of the Royal Family on horseback and in carriages.
Upon returning from the parade ground, the Queen and members of the Royal Family will make their usual balcony appearance. The event ends with a flyby over the palace.
Later, 1,500 beacons will be lit in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and British Overseas Territories. The main beacon will be lit in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Lighting bonfires is a long royal tradition used to celebrate anniversaries, weddings and coronations. Beacons are also lit in the capitals of the Commonwealth countries.
Friday June 3rd
A thanksgiving service in honor of the Queen’s long reign will be held in the presence of family members at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Saturday June 4th
Several members of the Royal Family are expected to head to Epsom Downs Racecourse in the afternoon for the 243rd edition of the famous horse race, the Derby. The Queen, herself a keen horse breeder, was a regular spectator at the event and has even presented the famous trophy in previous years.
Tonight, a star-studded line-up will perform on three stages at a two-and-a-half-hour Platinum Party At The Palace concert in front of Buckingham Palace and the iconic Queen Victoria Memorial. Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys and Diana Ross are among the artists who will perform their greatest hits on the show, which will be broadcast live by the BBC. About 22,000 people will see the concert in person, including 10,000 who won tickets through a public vote; 5,000 tickets were reserved for key workers.
Sunday June 5th
To top off the celebrations, people are encouraged to hold street parties on Sunday as part of the Big Jubilee Dinner initiative. Community gatherings are set to take place across the UK, including flagship events in London and at the Eden Project in Cornwall – where the idea for the luncheons originated. Big Jubilee Lunches are also planned around the world, from Canada to Brazil to South Africa and Japan.
The finale of the weekend is the Platinum Anniversary Competition, which brings together artistic performers, dancers, musicians, military personnel, essential workers and volunteers to bring iconic moments from the Queen’s reign to life in a festival of creativity. Beginning at 2:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. ET), the pageant will include a “River of Hope” section consisting of 200 silk flags that flow down the mall like a river. School children were invited to create a picture of their hopes and aspirations for the planet over the next 70 years, a selection of which will be featured on the silk flags.
When do we see the Queen?
It is not yet clear when we will see the Queen this weekend.
The 96-year-old monarch has struggled with mobility issues of late and has had to withdraw from several public appearances including the State Opening of Parliament in May.
She will continue to play it safe for the anniversary and has not yet confirmed if she will be attending the various celebrations.
A royal source recently to CNN that Her Majesty is “looking forward” to the celebrations and plans to attend the celebrations, but “her presence will not be confirmed until much nearer the time or on the day itself”.
What other royals are attending the celebrations?
Most senior royals are expected to attend some of the anniversary weekend events in central London. Some will also be sent to all four British nations during the four-day extravaganza, with the Queen sending the Cambridges to Wales, the Earl and Countess of Wessex to Northern Ireland, and Princess Anne to Scotland.
And after much speculation, it has also been confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their children will be flying back to the UK for the celebrations.
The Queen has decided that only royals on official duty will appear on Buckingham Palace’s iconic balcony during Thursday’s Trooping the Color parade. So we expect to see the Queen alongside three of her children – Charles, Edward and Anne – as well as Prince William and Kate and their children and a host of other relatives of the monarch.
That doesn’t mean Harry, Meghan or Andrew won’t be involved in the celebrations at all. The extended family is traditionally invited to church services, such as that for which they are intended St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday.
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