A Guide to the Diamond Jubilee

You would have to have been living under a rock for the last few months to have not heard anything about the Diamond Jubilee. But what is it, why is it significant and how will it be celebrated? To answer all these questions and more, here’s our mini guide to the Jubilee…

What is it?
Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne on 6th February 1952 following the death of her father King George VI, and had her coronation on 2nd June that same year – which means Saturday marked exactly sixty years of her reign. As the only other British monarch in history to reach this landmark was Queen Victoria (she ruled for almost 63-and-a-half years until her death), it’s quite an achievement – so it’s no wonder there has been so much fuss about it recently.

What’s happened already?
Well, if you turned on the TV any time on Sunday you’ll have seen an amazing procession of boats sailing miles along the Thames. This was the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, in which 1,000 vessels marked the largest flotilla in history to ever sail down the river. But that was just one of the events happening this weekend: it all started kicked off on Saturday with the Queen’s visit to the Epsom Derby, and it will continue tonight with the star-studded Jubilee Concert.

Jubilee Concert?
Held outside Buckingham Palace, this enormous free concert will involve some of the most renowned musicians from the UK and the Commonwealth, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, Tom Jones and Kylie Minogue, and there will be more than 10,000 members of the public in attendance – as well as millions more watching on TV. After this, 2,012 beacons will be lit across the UK to mark the anniversary, including 60 along the length of Hadrian’s Wall.

The weekend’s festivities will be rounded off on Tuesday with a morning service in St. Paul’s Cathedral, then a elaborate Carriage Procession back to Buckingham Palace, a 60-gun salute and, last but not least, an RAF fly-past. Then again, there are always the permanent tributes.

What kind of permanent tributes?
As such a major event, the Jubilee isn’t just about this weekend: there will be a long-lasting legacy. Tributes range from renaming the Olympic Park to planting ‘Jubilee Woodlands’, but perhaps the most notable memorial will be the renaming of the Palace of Westminster clock tower (the one that holds Big Ben) to ‘Elizabeth Tower’. There will also be tributes in other Commonwealth nations, including Canada, Australia, Belize and Jamaica, throughout 2012.

And what happens after 2012?
Jubilee Year is over. But some significant Queen Elizabeth dates to look out for in the future include 10th September 2015, when she will surpass Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning monarch in British history (and the longest-reigning female monarch in world history) and the 2nd June 2022, when she will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee – 70 years on the throne.

It’ll never happen. Will it?
It may seem implausible – she would be 96 years old by then – but when you consider that her mum lived until the grand old age of 101, you shouldn’t throw away the bunting just yet!